I turned the clock over another notch yesterday. Another mark on a totem pole that speaks of my life. I went home, found a gift from my lovely wife, and we went out to dinner, just around the corner behind our home. We got back a bit later, and I was not half an hour on the couch before I started snoozing.

When I woke a few minutes later, Tress and I laughed about how we have swapped roles. Back when she was with Myer at Docklands, she’d be the one who’d disappear into dreamland not long after sitting on the couch, at the end of a busy day’s work. She was with that blighted organisation for over a decade. She has earned her right to stay awake on the couch these days.

Maybe I tire more easily now because I don’t exercise as much as I used to. Maybe my work is more focused and intense now, although I wouldn’t have thought my previous roles were easier than the present one. I do however, put in a solid block of 9-10 hours every day and often, when I’m home, I’m inclined to do as little as possible. A glass or two of a very pleasant red would soften me up sufficiently to slip away into dreamtime.

I struggle to stay awake at night these days – as early as 8.30pm, I’d be “slip-sliding away”


Coopers’ Cats and Giants

Many months back the Hipos introduced to this very little Thai restaurant near their home. It’s a tiny hole in the wall joint, with not more than half a dozen small tables seating maybe 15-20 persons tops. The food however, is big on flavor and freshness and we’ve been back numerous times without ever being disappointed. Last Friday night, after a long and tiring week, I was so tired I couldn’t decide what I’d like to do and Tress couldn’t either so I got home, and after a short while we rang this Thai place and found ourselves gorging on the usual very delicious fares.

We went back after dinner to watch the Cats demolish the Swans. Dangerfield was moved into a full forward position and he gobbled up everything, kicking 4 goals before the first half was over.

It was very cold and wet on Saturday morning so there wasn’t much we could do except sleep in and wander around the home. I ended up wiping down stuff and gave the fridge and turbo oven a good cleanup. I scrubbed, wiped, dried and generally tried to make the most of the wet and miserable morning.

We drove up towards the Dandenongs again to look at a couple of properties and later that arvo we took the little guy to a dog sitter’s home in Ashwood to check it out. We haven’t left him with someone for a while now but with the St Alf camp coming up we needed to find something again. The dog sitter had a lovely home but we found out he had just lost one of his two four legged companions earlier that day. He looked very sad and his home is generally very warm and pleasant so we’d probably leave him there when we go for the camp in a few weeks’ time.

Back home, the weather had turned pleasant and so we did a quick tidying up of the garden. I did a quick mow, trimmed some plants and checked out the new edging work we had someone do recently. I hope the lawn and other plants hold out and thrive this summer. I am kind of looking forward to putting in more time and effort to generally spruce things up a bit more.

Later that night we watched GWS kill off any chance Sam Mitchell’s Eagles might have harbored. It looks like the top 4 teams would hit out for the GF spots again. I hope it’s a Cats v Tigers Grand Final.

On Sunday we took advantage of a gloriously Sunday morning and did some washing and so ran a touch late for church. We had Bernie Power talk about Islam and after that we drove to Narre Warren South, to help organize the Coopers’ home. Mike Cooper has been ill and is organizing for his home and caravan to be sold to pay for Annie his wife’s care in a home. They have loads of stuff in their garage and driveway so Tress and I drove out east and spent a few hours helping them in bits and pieces.

We got back close to 6pm, and got around getting ready for the work week. Working with Mike Cooper was a blessing for me. For the first time in a long time, I did something I didn’t want to do because it’d be helpful for someone who was virtually a stranger. The saying that it is more blessed to give than to receive, was more real than it has been for me for a very long time. So while he kept saying what a blessing Tress and I were to him and his Annie, I really felt – the whole time – that I was the one who was really blessed.

I came in to work just before 7am, as I usually do, and started immediately on that piece of work in which my boss was personally invested. A Fair Work claim had come in last week and the allegation included some personal stuff about my boss so not only has the work fallen on my desk, my boss’ personal involvement has given rise to a few other complications, which meant even more to work on.

So the morning flew past, and as I wrote this up quickly over lunch, Mike Cooper has accidentally rang me on my phone about 5 minutes ago to remind me life is indeed a tapestry that can be rich and full of experience.

Woes Aplenty

I often scribble some notes on my diary to start the day. These are usually stuff I needed to do for the day. It helps me start the day by focusing the mind and just making a mental note of all the things I needed to do.

This morning as I did my usual thing I couldn’t help take my mind off the half a dozen employees who would be told, sometime this morning, that they are being made redundant. The regular culling of staff at my workplace had the HR person leave a couple of months ago and legal has had to pick up a range of HR functions. So, this morning I have been asked to be at the meetings with those half a dozen employees.

I have for a while now, switched off unpleasant news. When I see something on tv, a post on FB, a twit or a newspaper article, where the subject matter shows up the ugly side of man, I have shut it down immediately. I switched channel, hid the post, turned off the twitter app or simply turned or swiped the page. There has been so much ugliness I don’t need to be soaking it up for another second. I don’t get people who share posts, twits, or like to shove news items where the depraved nature of man takes centre stage, in the face of other readers.

So, this morning is going to take some work on my part, notwithstanding there is little I have to do except be present to offer advice, hose the temperature down and take down notes where it is required.

It kind of takes the glitter off a really good weekend.

On Friday night, we caught up with Jason and Mel and as usual, spent 2-3 hours just talking over dinner. Back home we caught the second half (particularly the last quarter) of the Cats v Tigers game and it was scintillating stuff from Dustin Martin as he weaved with power and guile and kicked with laser guided speed and precision to set up a mauling of the Cats. It was wonderful to see and sort of compensated for the Hawks’ absence from finals footy.

On Saturday we did the usual errands including looking at a couple of property out east but neither of them looked suitable. We also picked up nice bottle of scotch, which we were going to gift to Auntie Ann. U Seng had asked us to be at a dinner to celebrate her 60th, along with a few other relos. We met up at a Korean BBQ place in Box Hill and it was good to catch up with them. We went over to their house after that, before picking up the high wire act that was Power v Eagles, with the latter kicking an after-the-siren goal to win by 2 points, after two periods of extra time, to settle the outcome. What a finals series it has been, after the Giants had fizzled out against the Crows on Thursday night.

On Sunday we stayed back after service, to listen to Mark Sneddon as he gave a talk on the issues surrounding the postal survey on same sex marriage that was going to be underway. Mark heads up the Institute for Civil Society ( and is a member of St Alf’s and listening to him is always a learning experience. I have been reading up on homosexuality and gender issues for the last 3 years or so and to listen to Mark talk about these issues as the matter comes to a head of sorts here in Australia, all those matters I read about are no longer issues affecting a distant land like the US or Canada. They are at our front door, knocking ever louder. As I recall those books and articles I read by the likes of Ryan T Anderson, Robert Gagnon, Paul McHugh, Jeffery Satinover and many others, I wonder why is it those who articulated logical and reasonable thoughts are ignored whereas those who perpetuated inaccurate woolly gibberish are often listened to instead. There is something about lies and the originator of such lies…

Later on Sunday arvo we did some more stuff around the house – Tress ironed my shirts, I bathed the little guy in his special shampoo prescribed by the vet and we just eased into a mindset for the start of another work week. I hope the half a dozen employees would find a way to find another space to work out their work week rhythm.

Cultural Amnesia (with apology to Clive James)

ometimes, people behave in a way which lends credence to what otherwise would have passed or been dismissed as cultural prejudices.

I was born and bred in Malaysia, amongst ethnic Chinese communities who are either businessmen or professionals. These business people and professional (mainly men) in turn transact mainly amongst themselves, with the odd deal involving a different ethnic group, usually emanating from a government related project. When such a deal is in play, one invariably comes across a technocrat of sorts – often from sub-continent roots.

These SC folks have, often unfairly in my view, earned a reputation as being untrustworthy and a pain in the arse to deal with. Allegedly, they renege on their words, are very untrusting, thus leading to convoluted steps being undertaken, and often analyse their end of the bargain with a turbo charged FOMO mentality. Hence the prevalence of racist Indian jokes in Malaysia. This was way back then of course and I have no idea if this is still the case today.

An ex-colleague has been attempting to seek some form of redress or recompense for having been dismissed. This person clearly has no idea how to go about the process and has missed every turn so far. This is ironic as her role was to have been to implement or coordinate such processes. That she hasn’t been able to work out (or, apparently, haven’t managed to bother working out) the right way to seek redress for herself, clearly weakens her case and does no harm to my employer’s decision to let her go.

Ordinarily I would have been very sympathetic and I was, initially, quite so. The way she stomped around however, and the way she made statements which were so out of turn, making demands which clearly inflated her sense of importance and almost certainly far exceeding her station in life (for now at least). The fact that she is ethnically Indian would have all been irrelevant except all her actions, statements, and missteps resonate in that I have seen it all before, and almost always involved Indian antagonists. To talk it all up, but with comical outcomes, appear to be the hallmarks of what I saw back in the day. I had long discarded such thoughts and the last time I chastised myself for thinking in such terms was a very long time ago – years before I left Malaysia, when I was paly with practitioners who were Indians. I had in fact, often told Tress that had I not met her, there was a very high chance that I would have married an Indian.

The dodgy nonplussed course of action is unfortunately reminiscent.

Father’s Day Weekend

I’ve wanted a steak dinner for a while now so on Friday Tress and I went to a local joint and I had a wonderful scotch fillet which took away that “I haven’t had real meat for a while now” feeling. Tress had some fish and we both left that place feeling stuffed. But happy.

On Saturday I had wanted to do some gardening but the weather forecast was for a dirty day so I decided to do some house cleaning on the inside instead. Our modest home requires less than a couple of hours to a simple vacuum and wipe down so we got that done, after which we went to the local post office to pick up my new plates for the MX5. We then went for lunch, dropped into the local library and then drove towards the Dandenongs to look at a property in a neighbouring suburb from the mountains. We got back home later in the arvo, I marinated some chicken for the week’s lunches and then we took the little fellow for a walk when the weather cleared up a little. Then later that night we completed the last season of Suits – which means we can no longer binge on the shenanigans of PSL.

It was Father’s Day yesterday and it was good to see the occasion acknowledged and heartily celebrated by so many. We had done Exodus 20 on Thursday night at the Maury’s home as well as at St Alf’s yesterday and the one on parents specifically talked about honouring one’s father and mother – not parents. So the occasion was a great opportunity for the more traditionalists to make a mark. Other than a message on FB and a couple of jokes about them getting me an exotic car for the occasion, it was a non-event for us but we saw how our friends went full tilt for it, which is great to see.

The whole shift where the peripheral has forced the mainstream to talk about little else other than what are ordinarily fringe matters, has been very frustrating. We now find it necessary to explain ourselves or justify our thoughts or behaviour on issues which a vast majority of people find absolutely normal, and without any need to be apologetic about. It feels mindless and totally unreasonable.

Celebrating Father’s Day is just one of those matters. Surely those who think Father’s Day should be replaced with “Parent’s Day” or “Special Person Day” is in a very small minority. It can – if it is to be given any airtime at all – be brought up in a small group in a corner of the country somewhere and politely forgotten (very) soon after, instead of occupying column inches on front pages or prime time airing.

Gender fluidity, genderless ideas, same sex marriage and all such matters really should not have taken up as much attention and should not have cause as much grief as they have. More should just say “enough is enough”.

I really wish I could have celebrated Father’s Day with more chutzpah, and not just because I wished modern day Australia didn’t create this empty space for me.

Shoe on other foot?

Some time yesterday morning, the group general counsel, who is my manager, came up to me and asked for a confidential chat. We went into a small meeting room and he said to me he was going to let someone go later that day. He explained why he was doing that and he asked if I could be with him at the meeting.

A part of me wanted to pull away but it is work that needs to be done. A meeting to terminate employment is always best convened with more than just one on one. Having a third party present is always prudent. I’ve known this since striking a close working relationship with the group human resource head of Phileo Group in KL back in the day. Phillip K became a good friend and I’ve had the misfortune to have lost contact with him since we moved to Melbourne. As someone who is here to do work, I agreed to my manager’s not unreasonable request.

It happened just after lunch – my manager got riled up just before the meeting and so he was very short with the employee during that meeting. He did it quickly and left the room, leaving the CFO (who had been pulled in by the employee) and I to smoothen the exit. After finally seeing the person out some half an hour later, I debriefed my manager and then felt crappy for the rest of the day.

As I was getting dressed this morning, I wondered what that person’s day was going to turn out. I said a little prayer for her. I couldn’t help but thought there but for the grace of God go I…

Luigi, Hodgey, Prosper and LBJ

Some weeks, I feel totally flat by Friday arvo. On such weeks, I’d like to go somewhere I can feel at home for a meal. This little Italian place as the crow flies from our home, has become such a place. I’d drop the owner proprietor cook a note on FB some time during the day and the reservation’s done. Tress and I go there on average once a month and last Friday night when we went there it was a great way to just unwind. The food there is always fresh and delicious and Luigi and his crew – Italian accent and all – always make the occasion relaxed and enjoyable.

After dinner we went back home to watch Hodgey’s final game. The General was to retire, along with Bob Murphy and Matt Boyd, were all playing their last game. Josh Gibson was retiring too but he was still injured and so didn’t play. It was good to see Hawks win their final game of the season – against the Doggies – notwithstanding we’re missing out on finals footy for the first time in years. I regretted not going for the game but Friday night games have become a big challenge now, and I had mistakenly thought it was an away game as it was at the Etihad, when it was in fact a home game.

The next morning I went for the men’s breakfast meeting, and listened to a guy called Prosper Sebafundi talk about his journey, leaving Rwanda first for Congo and then to Australia, becoming successful here in Melbourne. After the talk, Tress and I went and kept our appointment with our tax consultants to submit our returns, before heading further out east to look at a potential property. We had last Thursday, agreed to sell a property not far from our home and we thought we’d put it back in something a bit bigger but a bit further out.

The weather was very ordinary right through the weekend and we could only manage short quick walks with the little fellow. It was the same yesterday – it was bucketing down for much of the morning and when Tress was away for a lunch with come ex-colleagues, I had to ward off the little fellow’s nudges and say to him we’ll go out when the weather clears up and when Tress was home. Tress got home a bit after 3pm and we managed a quick walk before coming back home to set up for the week.

It would be another busy week – the Group CEO transition means the usual cycles are disrupted and work is going to be a bit more frantic but such is life…

Rain, and Sunshine

Tress and I sat at a table by the window on Friday night, and watched the rain bucketing down onto the cars parked outside the restaurant. It was that sort of a wintery day and the desert was a coconut ice cream which we looked at and I had no interest.

My mind wandered to the horrible news earlier that morning – Barcelona, one of my sentimental favourite cities in Europe, had experienced the horror of what has unfortunately become a familiar account. A van was driven through Las Ramblas, mowing down and killing over a dozen people and injuring scores of others. I remember having a meal in the outdoor dining area of a café at Las Ramblas, nearly 20 years ago now – on the main walkway itself – and seeing a group of English tourists doing a runner. They were chased down and hauled back by the café’s waiters. They were ushered inside to the back of the café and I wondered if they paid with interest.

The rain made the Friday night dinner more subdued than it should be. Payom Thai is a local Thai place we’ve been to numerous time and it’s always a good experience. We quickly left when the rain eased up.

We went back and watched a little bit of the footy – Swans playing away to the Crows was always going to be a good contest but not 15 minutes in we decided to watch Suits on Netflix instead, and binge watched till neither of us could keep our eyes open any longer.

The weather the next morning was equally dull. We slept in a little bit and then I decided to take the little fellow for a walk before it poured again and before Amber arrived. It started to rain as the little jedi and I were heading back. He got a little wet and that annoyed Amber as it would be harder for her to clip the wild growth off his follicles if it was wet. As she groomed him we had our coffee and brekky and after he was done Tress and I left for our usual weekend chores. I also picked up the new plates I wanted to put on the Miata.

Later that arvo we met with Nadine, a real estate agent whom we’d asked to help with the proposed sale of an investment unit. If that works out we’d probably miss it but otherwise we’d be happy to keep it and let the current tenants continue on. Nadine appeared to be cautiously confident it’d sell so we’ll have to see how it goes.

We went back late arvo, binged on Suits a bit more, before switching to the EPL to see United chalk up an impressive second big win. Mourinho has certainly brought some mojo back.

We had a Ridley lecturer speak on Elizabeth I and her influence on the fledgling English reformation. She mandated uniform use of Cranmer’s work throughout England and entrenched important truths amongst ordinary folks. I often baulk at modern day churches’ disdain for traditions and I couldn’t help but wonder how many of Melbourne’s scores of little independent or ACC churches appreciated the roles of the likes these early protagonists. Without the likes of Tyndale and Cranmer and without Elizabeth I’s clear mandate, church history would probably take a very different trajectory and one can only wonder what that would mean for these little churches in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne today.

After lunch we took the little fellow for a walk – the weather had vastly improved and the sunny conditions were perfect. Later that arvo I cooked the week’s lunches and Tress did the ironing. We then rang her dad and my mum. We had in recent days said to ourselves we hadn’t done that for a while so we said we needed to ring them this weekend. It was good talking to my mum again and she sounded well. Life is just moving along for her – she now has May and her two boys with her and so the house now has 4 of them instead of just her alone and that has to be good.

Maybe it’s old age, or maybe the reality of mortality continues to dawn, especially given the news this morning that a 7-year old Aussie was amongst those killed in Barcelona late last week. As diabolical rains bucket down on our lives, one hopes the sunny conditions aren’t too far behind and they’d stay when they arrive.