My life is like a game of chess

My life is like a game of chess – it has a beginning, a middle-game, and an endgame.
I was born in a very cold country far, far away called Holland, on 10th
September, 1946. Because it is partially below sea level, the people are only
saved by being dammed.
Post-war Europe (and especially formerly occupied countries such as Holland)
was still on food rations, and disease and mal-nutrition was rife, so I was
baptised 1 day after I was born, as the infant mortality rate was still very high.
I have 5 siblings – Frank, Maria, Theo, Joyce & Liduina, and the youngest two
were born in Australia after our family migrated here in 1952.
Just before we left Holland, I caught chicken-pox, and this would have aborted
our whole trip if word had got out. My mother skilfully (she was a nurse during
the war) camouflaged me with a thick cream, and during the voyage my illness
became too obvious to disguise, as about half the children on the boat also
caught chicken-pox! I reckon I did those kids a favour, as it was quite harmless
for young children, and would give them immunity for a long time!
My parents were also advised that as Australia was a warm country, they
didn’t need to pack any jumpers or warm clothes – and guess where & when
they arrived – in June, 1952, in a very cold Daylesford! They were also quite
unlucky in the timing of their departure – it was 1 month before the $10 fares
became available, so they borrowed the fares from their friends & relatives,
and had to pay them back later.
The middle-game.
I went to school in Mount Gambier, South Australia, after my family moved
there for my father’s work, and picked up the local swear-words very quickly,
and promptly taught them to my parents! To get to my secondary school
(Marist Brothers College) took me about 1 hour on the bike, so I got lots of free
exercise, and developed strong legs.
The last 4 years of my secondary schooling was as a boarder at Monivae
College, in Hamilton, where some of my fellow school-mates were the Dodson
brothers – Patrick & Michael.
Can you believe that Pat Dodson used to be a skinny rover in our football
team? He was also Australia’s 1st Aboriginal Catholic Priest (he eventually left,
and later married).
I did well academically, getting 3 distinctions in my final year, enough to earn a
Commonwealth Scholarship (free Uni fees & all living fees paid for the whole
My next sojourn was going to the Sacred Heart Seminary at Douglas Park (near
Bowral, where Sir Donald Bradman was born) to study to become a priest. I
only lasted for 6 months, but the place was strange & surreal – no radio, TV,
newspapers or phones – it was like training to be a hermit!
I went to Melbourne University in 1966 – ostensibly to study Science (2X
maths, Physics & Meteorology), but enjoyed the lifestyle at Newman College
so much, that study came a distant 2nd, and I only passed 1 subject at the end
of the year. I do remember playing an all-night poker game, where the stakes
were a penny per game, and it took me 8 hours to lose about $5!
Then in 1967 I saw an advertisement for a Computer Operator – I had never
seen a computer, but the bottom line of the ad. said “we will train you”. I
applied for the job, and my initial test was for my aptitude for Computer
programming, and I got an A+ result.
The computer was an IBM 1401 – punch cards in, and punch cards out, and
half my time was spent on a noisy card-sorting machine. If I accidentally
dropped a tray full of cards, I had to start all over again, as the computer would
not work without the cards being in order! I soon became adept at not
dropping trays!
I have worked at many & various jobs in a long & interesting life – most of
them related to computers, but also:-
Planting pine trees in Mount Gambier
Developing & printing photos (black & white – about 1962)
Oil exploration - seismic probe distributor “juggy”.
Tram conductor
In 1983 I became the Chess Ratings Officer for Australia, and my job involved
processing all the chess tournaments played in Australia, and also converting
all the Australian chess ratings to an equivalent International ratings setting. It
took me about 6 months of spare time to do this. I was already playing both
Tournament chess and correspondence chess (playing via snail-mail – about 1
move per week!). My father had taught me how to play, and it took me many
years before I could beat him!
In 1998 I moved from Richmond to Lilydale, and enrolled at Swinburne
University to study full-time. I studied all the IT subjects that they had, and
graduated in 2000. Then I got a job working at Swinburne, on the Blackboard
Help desk (all student lectures and study materials are now online). I worked at
both the Hawthorn & Lilydale campuses, and really enjoyed it.
In 2007 I enrolled at ACU (Australian Catholic University) to study teacher
training, and I studied both IT & RE (Religious Education).
I was head-hunted (for the 1st time in my life!) in 2011 to work at Swinburne
Lilydale again, this time as an Educational Technology Developer, where I
worked again with Blackboard, but also recorded the Lectures, edited them,
then placed them online for the students to see.
Then in 2013 they closed my Campus! It was a bolt from the Blue, completely
unexpected, and surprised everyone who was working at Lilydale at the time. I
then retired, and accepted a package in lieu of notice.
The end-game
In chess, the end of a game happens in 3 possible ways – win, lose or draw. In
life, how long you live depends on genes, environment, and how many risks
you take along the way.
My father lived until 95 years old, so I now need to fill in the next 27 years,
without getting too bored (and broke!), and that is why I am here today. I am
currently mentoring students in 2 local primary schools, and also am about to
start Tutoring Broadband for Seniors at Healesville, which is due to start next
PS I am married, and have got 3 teenagers; 2 of them have Autism, so I am still
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