layers of logistics

I have recently been intrigued by the concept of logistics.

Don’t ask me why.

Third party logistics, to be precise.

But let’s start at the beginning.  The term logistics comes from the Greek logos, meaning “speech, reason, ratio, rationality, language, phrase”, and more specifically from the Greek word logistiki, meaning accounting and financial organisation. The word logistics, of course, and perhaps that’s why I am so drawn to it, has its origin in the French verb loger; to lodge.

It started being bandied around as a ‘thing’, by the military. They needed to supply and maintain arms, ammunition and rations as they moved from their base to a forward position. In ancient Greek, Roman and Byzantine empires, military officers with the title Logistikas were responsible for financial and supply distribution matters.

Logistics started being used as a business concept in the 1950s. It was around then, post-war, that supplying businesses with materials became more complex and more globalised. So then a new fancy pants job was created: supply chain logisticians. They were all about having the right quantity of the right item at the right place for the right price. That’s a lot of rights.

So just going back to the start and the ideal of logos. Logistics are really all about communication. And communication, of necessity, involves other people, unless you are communing with the other personalities in your mind…and even then…it IS still communication.

So logistics = communication and relationships.

Ergo, trust.

It fascinates me that these business concepts proliferate and I hear them and think, nah, no idea, I’m a French teacher, what would I know about logistics. And granted, if anyone actually IN logistics read this, they are probably saying oh là là, stick to the French letters and leave the logistics up to us.


Communication, relationship and trust.

From the outside looking in, that’s what it’s all about.

So when I heard the term, THIRD PARTY LOGISTICS, or TPL or even 3PL, its little fancy acronyms, I did think, now this is where the trouble starts. Or where the negotiation and trust and ease start, perhaps. Depending on your baggage. And communication. And honesty.

Because whenever you bring in a third party, you’re increasing the need for trust.

So. Third party logistics is about outsourcing and trusting who you outsource. Third party logistics involves using an outside organisation to execute logistics activities that have been traditionally performed within the organisation itself. Some examples of this are warehousing, transportation management and freight consolidation.

It appears that there are layers of logistics. Of course. You can’t get to 3PL without 1 and 2PL. Surely.

So First Party Logistics refers to a situation where the shipper, such as a manufacturing firm delivering to customers or a retailer picking up cargo from a supplier, dictate the origin and the destination of the cargo and it is all handled in-house. Sole provider. Handling it. Perhaps well, perhaps, fraught. Certainly lonely.

Second Party Logistics are the ones providing a transport service over a specific segment of a transport chain, so by sea or rail or a trucking company. They are probably taking cargo from a distribution centre to a port terminal. Here, we start allowing another to share the journey.

Then there’s the third party who are a bit like intermediaries who are the connection between the shipper and the rail company, for example. So, freight forwarders, courier companies.

Now, apparently, there is 4PL, the companies who oversee the overseeing….or more pertinently, perhaps, streamline the logistics and oversee the overall supply chain and ensure that best practice is being adhered to and that their client is making lots of money. Or at least, the money they have the potential to make.

There are whispers of 5PL and some kind of crow-barring of e-business into the mix. I think that’s just trend analysts playing with our minds.

Because really, it does all still boil down to how we work with others and what we tell them we need and what we expect them to supply and how efficiently that all goes down.

Possibly, the way that is going to work in the 3PL world, is when parties act simultaneously in their own best interests and in the best interests of the group.

And in order to do this, businesses seeking a 3PL relationship need to think about what their needs actually are, before they seek a provider. What is the desired outcome? What will they put up with and what is an absolute line in the sand?

Sometimes it is necessary to stray from the fixed idea one party might have in how supply is going to happen. But the end result still has to be mutual benefit, not one party feeling compromised and bewildered at the turn of events.

When choosing a potential partner…3PL partner that is…there is apparently a recommended selection process:
Product type. Can the 3PL handle what you need them to handle…are there fragile, precious aspects which need to be considered?
Geography. Can the 3PL handle distance?
Service. Does this occur when and in the way you need it?

I didn’t ever imagine that I would be writing or thinking about Third Party Logistics. And yet here I am, fascinated.


being a princess

My four year old niece’s birthday was a flurry of pink and tulle and several plastic silver crowns, and princess make up and fairy-ness. And my niece loved it. 

She knows about princesses and fairies. Contrary to the views and encouragement of her down-to-earth parents, she has embraced the pinkest of pink, barbies, princesses, dresses that twirl, and blonde stereotypical beauty. She can’t help it. It is everywhere in the world.

And we might feel upset at our modern age and the way beauty is dictated to us, but it really is an age-old problem.

We have always been assailed by ideal beauty.

Back in 1210, Geoffrey of Vinsauf, when writing his Poetria Nova, had already tired of the stereotypical descriptions of beautiful women and offered his new amplified version, the head-to-toe appraisal:

“If you wish to describe womanly beauty:

Let Nature’s compass draw the outline of the head; let the color of gold gleam in the hair; let lilies grow on the lofty forehead. Let the eyebrows equal black whortleberries in appearance; let a milky way intersect the twin eyebrows; let restraint rule the shape of the nose, lest it fall short of, or exceed, the proper bounds. Let the sentinels of the forehead gleam from both sides, twin little eyes with emerald lights, like a constellation. Let the face be like the dawn, neither rosy nor white, but of both and neither color at the same time. Let the diminutive mouth shine forth like a half circle; let the swelling lips be moderately full, and red, fired with a mild flame. Let order join together the snow-white, even teeth. Let the savory odor of the mouth be like frankincense; let Nature, more powerful than art, polish the chin smoother than marble. Let the milky supporting column of the head, of exquisite color, raise the mirror of the face on high; from the crystalline throat let there proceed a certain splendor which can strike the eyes of the beholder and steal the heart. By a certain law let the shoulders be similar, neither sloping nor rising but resting in a straight line. Let the upper arms, as long as they are slender, be enchanting. Let the fingers be soft and slim in substance, smooth and milk-white in appearance, long and straight in shape: in them let the beauty of the hand shine forth. Let the snowy bosom present both breasts like virginal gems set side by side. Let the waist be slim, a mere handful. I will not mention the parts beneath: here the imagination speaks better than the tongue. But let the leg show itself graceful; let the remarkably dainty foot wanton with its own daintiness.”

Wow. It is hard not to let comparison be the thief of joy when reading this. And this was written 800 years ago.

600 years on and the Brothers Grimm came up with the tale of Snow White. A tale of vanity and desperation.

The Queen wants to be the most beautiful woman ever. The mirror has been a faithful friend and made her feel good about herself for quite some time. That is, until Snow White, the Queen’s step-daughter, blossomed.

Now, Snow White was hot. And hotness goes a long way. When the Queen asked a huntsman to take Snow White out into the woods and kill her, of course he didn’t. She was way too hot for that.

So she wandered around for a while, indulged in some breaking and entering, helped herself to food and drink and fell asleep in someone else’s bed. When the owners, seven small men, came home and discovered her, all was forgiven. 

Because she was hot.

So she lived with them. They warned her not to open the door to anyone, given her recent brush with death. And off they went to work.

When there was a knock at the door, Snow White answered it, bought the random lace bodice that the old pedlar woman just happened to be selling way out in the middle of a forest, let the woman pull the bodice strings so hard, that she couldn’t get air and fainted.

When the seven small men came home, they revived Snow White and reiterated how important it was not to open the door. And the next day they went off to work again.

Once again, there was a knock at the door and Snow White opened it, was enchanted by a comb that another random pedlar was selling her, stuck it in her head, was poisoned and fell to the ground again.

More reviving by the seven dwarfs who spoke very slowly to Snow White, adamantly telling her NOT TO OPEN THE DOOR.

And yet the following day, Snow White, hot, yet clearly stupid, once again opened the door, because she really wanted the apple the newly random pedlar lady was offering. This time, the seven small men did not get home in time. Snow White was dead.

Clearly, the best thing to do with a dead hot girl is to place her in a glass coffin on top of a mountain so everyone can see her hotness and mourn its loss.

Luckily it was glass because when a prince, who also happened to be hot, and just happened to be passing, saw her, he immediately reacted the way anyone would upon seeing a hot dead girl, he kissed her. Which brought her back to life. And they got married even though they had only just met, and lived happily ever after, which is never explained in these stories, completely ditching the seven small men who had looked after her until that point.

So what we learn from this and from other fairy tales, like Cinderella, The Little Mermaid and, in fact, modern chick flick fairy tales is that beauty is essential. Intelligence is not. Beauty wins hearts and wealth and ends in marriage. To a man. And that has to be what we all desire.

It’s time we wrote another version. And defined and owned that version. We have centuries of brainwashing to overcome.

But we have to start. We need to encourage self-reliance and an independent shaping of identity and a renewed sense of what happily ever after might mean.



Today, 26th May, is National Sorry Day. A day which sees Australians express regret for the historical mistreatment of their Aboriginal people.

The first Sorry Day was held in 1998, one year on from the tabling of the Bringing Them Home Report. This report revealed the extent of the forcible removal policies, which were passed and implemented for more than 150 years and into the 1970s. 

This report was the first of its kind in that it presented a complete analysis of the policies which saw the separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families from the late 1800s and resulted in the Stolen Generations. It is also the first true ad and comprehensive documentation of first hand testimonies of those taken as children.

The report allowed the truth to be told. And heard.

Sorry Day marked the start of reconciliation. Reconciliation is a long path to embark on. Forgiveness, an even longer one. And we must never forget.

But we do have to start somewhere. And acknowledging, and hearing and striking out on a new path is a good way to start.

living life like it’s golden

Home. What does that mean? 

There are many factors involved with experiencing a feeling which we might call coming home. 

It can be with a person. You just click. You’re comfortable with them, like you’ve known them your whole life, and you don’t have to pretend to be anyone or anything. 

It can be with a place. The place you come from. The place you have gone to that fits you and fills you.

Home might depend on what fills your soul at the time.

I think every culture has a sense of what home means to them in terms of country and belonging. Language, geography, accent, cultural references. They bring people together in a collective understanding and sense of place and time.

174 years is not long in the big history of countries and people and collective consciousness. And as soon as I type 174 years, I do want to acknowledge that the Maori were already in New Zealand with a connection to the land and with a strong and vibrant culture before the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840.  

And still. New Zealand is young. You can see it in its sharp landscape. In the fact that it is still moving and reforming, both geologically, politically, socially and culturally.

When I think of home, I think of that ball of light that fills my heart and takes over my lungs; that feeling of rapture that I came from here: this tiny country with a tiny population that plays with the big kids.

Music, design, art, innovation, sport, engineering, and other domains I am sadly ignorant of. We make our way, we little flightless birds, onto a world stage. Still unashamedly flaunting our fush and chups and suxty suvens and yiss and our penchant for crazy kiwiana.

Cringe if you will, but any New Zealander born in the seventies or eighties is absolutely nodding their heads in recognition of these phrases. And feeling, at the same time as shuddering, a sense of belonging.
Australia may have called itself the lucky country for a while. And there is no doubt it was. That’s what lured New Zealanders across the ditch. Better pay, more opportunities.

But our hearts remain in New Zealand. And we just need a wild beach, some L&P, fern fronds, pohutukawa, whitebait patties, a Steinlager Pure or even a Speights, maori place names, and we feel at home.

At home, the sun caressing our faces, living life like it’s golden.

the white page

I want to write. But I am currently bereft of inspiration. Sometimes the writing pours from me like a river in full flow, the words tumbling over themselves as they seek their place on the page. Everywhere I look, I see or hear or taste something I want to write about.

There are ebbs and flows, obviously. Just to mix my river and sea metaphors up a bit. 

And perhaps it is no coincidence that there is a full moon tonight. If ever I was to be affected by ebb and flow, I am sure it is now.

That might be an excuse.

Are there any new ideas? Or are we just rehashing what has already gone before?

In Medieval times, creating anything new was blasphemous. Only God could create, they thought. So the art lay in the adaptation of what had gone before. Retelling stories with a different slant. The medieval French writers used the word antancion. You can probably guess that it had something to do with their intention. So what became important was their angle, the way they told a story that had already been told, be it biblical or from the Greek canon of Homer’s Odyssey and the Iliad, and from the writings of Aristotle, Euripides, Aristophanes and Euclid.

The author’s perception of what the subject matter requires dictates the way he or she crafts its description. And therein lies the treasure. Hopefully.

So. There is nothing new under the sun. The frisson that I experience as I look up at the full moon or the feeling of golden specialness when the sun slips down over the horizon, caressing bricks and chimneys and individual leaves. There are many who have appreciated these things before me and expressed the revelation and sense of wonder they engender in much more erudite terms.

Writing. It’s the outer expression of inner knowing, wanting to know, exploring and feeling.

And I am happy to be part of it and to strive for my voice and my wonderings to be heard.

comparison is the thief of joy

It is easy to do. Compare, contrast and come out feeling second best.

We are often not even comparing like with like. If we were scientists, it would be a flawed experiment. Our control sample is not objective in the slightest. We compare our beginnings, or where we are at, with others’ middles or ends. We compare our perceived view of the other to our often warped view of ourselves. We compare the results of different genetic gifts or provisions.

And then we feel profoundly disappointed.

Disappointed at a lack, a deficiency. Disappointed in the midst of plenty.

Is this a first world problem? The focus on what we don’t have rather than on what we do have. I am speaking more of personal reflection rather than of material possession. But the same questions can be applied.

When we compare ourselves to others, we know exactly what is going on inside ourselves. So we are comparing all the faults and the flaws and the fears and the history we have of ourselves with what we see on the outside of another person. Even with some deeper knowledge of them, we are still, <!– /* Font Definitions */ @font-face {font-family:"MS 明朝"; mso-font-charset:78; mso-generic-font-family:auto; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:-536870145 1791491579 18 0 131231 0;} @font-face {font-family:"MS 明朝"; mso-font-charset:78; mso-generic-font-family:auto; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:-536870145 1791491579 18 0 131231 0;} @font-face {font-family:Cambria; panose-1:2 4 5 3 5 4 6 3 2 4; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:auto; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:-536870145 1073743103 0 0 415 0;} /* Style Definitions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-unhide:no; mso-style-qformat:yes; mso-style-parent:""; margin:0cm; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:Cambria; mso-ascii-font-family:Cambria; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-fareast-font-family:"MS 明朝"; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-fareast; mso-hansi-font-family:Cambria; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;} .MsoChpDefault {mso-style-type:export-only; mso-default-props:yes; font-family:Cambria; mso-ascii-font-family:Cambria; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-fareast-font-family:"MS 明朝"; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-fareast; mso-hansi-font-family:Cambria; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;} @page WordSection1 {size:612.0pt 792.0pt; margin:72.0pt 90.0pt 72.0pt 90.0pt; mso-header-margin:36.0pt; mso-footer-margin:36.0pt; mso-paper-source:0;} div.WordSection1 {page:WordSection1;to a certain extent, only seeing what they choose to reveal, or what we choose to see.

The world we live in seems obsessed with output. Our systems of assessment, our economy, our social media. We are judged by what we produce. It is probably difficult to get around this. 

In many ways output is built on shifting sands. There are so many factors connected to successful output which we cannot control; the environment, social trending, teachers, bosses, the weather, the day we had before the day we ‘prove’ ourselves. But what we can control is our input. We can strive and take hold and hone and listen and respond and learn and grow. And do our best with what we have. 

All of us made it in the race to be here. We won against 40 million to 1.2 billion other sperm who wanted the prize. We deserve our place and we deserve to make our way in the world the best way we can.

There is no merit in comparing and feeling disappointed. There is merit in embracing and appreciating and taking a big deep breath and smiling.


I was asked today about the intricacies of employing madame over mademoiselle. A friend had addressed a friend of the feminine persuasion as madame in an email. Her reply wondered at what age do we switch from madame to mademoiselle if a woman is unmarried. Is it when she is deemed an ‘old maid’? Her words.
My friend was concerned at his apparent blunder and felt that he had offended the recipient of his email.
This is an ongoing dilemma and one which I recently discussed with French friends. 

Traditionally Mademoiselle was used to address unmarried women. This does assume that women will get married and also that they will marry before a certain age. So Mademoiselle carries hints of youthfulness and light floatiness…at least it does for me. So, for a woman to be addressed as Madame, there is the idea of older, niched in the respectable confines of marriage, there is a somewhat serious feel to the title. Unless you are a madame of a brothel which is an entirely different story and yet still carries a similar weight, if not in a prim and proper social sense, in a commanding sense all the same.

There is something appealing in being referred to as mademoiselle, when one has possibly crossed the age border and the madame territory looms. There is a flirtatiousness to it perhaps, the idea being, of course that a mademoiselle is unattached and pursuable…desirable even.

But, as with the anglophone Miss, Mrs and Ms debacle, it is absolutely sexist. A man is always Monsieur, but a woman’s title, and let’s get down to the nitty gritty of it, has to do with her virginal state. 

These days, in France, it’s much more common to just use Madame. In fact, in 2012, Prime Minister François Fillon issued a circular to government staff that there was to be no distinction and that Madame was to be used as the equivalent of Monsieur. 

People often hold on to old-fashioned ways without really thinking them through. They feel offended that you are making a comment on their age, when really they should be offended by a sexist distinction in titles. 
You can’t win with women, sadly. We do want it all.
That is perhaps unfair. I am speaking from the position of a woman who wants it all. I want respect and equal standing. I want to be taken seriously. I also want to be appreciated for my femininity. I want to be admired, wooed, adored. But for my mind. Maybe sometimes for my body. I want independence but also a strong arm around me.
It’s a tightrope.
We want men to read our minds. We need you to be knights, poets, plumbers, electricians, talkers, listeners, manly, perceptive.

sparkling, tap or river water?

Site specific water in throwing the pottery.

Does it make a difference?

Does it matter if it makes a difference?

Water. It’s important in Victoria. There’s a desalination plant which has cost millions of dollars because there was a drought. And we needed water. There was no rain. Now there is lots of rain. The desalination plant at Wonthaggai is very controversial.

A lot of money, a lot of work but did we need the desalination plant. At the time, yes. But nature has her way. Perhaps for now, no.

Water. It is a precious commodity. Especially here.

In an excruciating Cotton Eye Joe reference, where did you come from, where did you go? I’m not sure we can rely on any golden speeches the Victorian Government might deliver as far as water is concerned. Mind you, we can’t blame them. They are on the edge of their seats, watching and waiting themselves, will it rain, will it continue to rain, will we have a war over water with New Zealand?…oh it’s raining…but how long will that last?

Does water matter? Does the source of our water matter?

I have friends who work for Melbourne Water and they say yes. As they should.

And then there is Kate Hill who has a residency at C3, an open art gallery at Abbotsford Convent. Kate is investigating the use of site specific water in her pottery. She is collecting water from different sites along the Yarra River over her three week residency at Abbotsford Convent. And already she has water from Japan and Victorian rivers.

I wasn’t really clear on why water from a Japanese river came into it. But I don’t think it matters whether I am clear or not.

Does the water alter the pottery?

Do we have to perceive that difference?

Does that matter? 

In the end, there is beauty. And making beauty out of what we have and placing that on a simple pine shelf, standing back and appreciating the form. That’s it.