At Home Alone with Merlot

Theresa took Kiddo to one of those ladies’ meetings our church convenes every month or so. They are at Lynda’s place tonight where dinner was also served. Theresa was however so thoughtful that she had whipped up a plate of stir fried green leafy veg for me, just before she left. She also cut up some strawberries. So dinner for me was a plate of green leafy veg and strawberries! Great stuff, if you asked me! Now however, I have a glass of 2005 Bannockburn Cab Sav Merlot – a bit spicy and full bodied and contrasts quite a bit with the straight Merlot I have been drinking lately.

I am alone at home now, trying to do some work but distracted and not concentrating well so I might as well have some fun and blog.

We are counting down now, for the move to Vicki St. Hopefully the conveyancing aspects progress smoothly. We are using one of those conveyor belt conveyancers, so I hope there would be no kinks to straighten out.

I dread the thought of packing and moving and the weeks of settling into the new place. Somehow inertia seems a lot more attractive but I guess we have to move on, to make things happen a bit more.


Theresa’s back

Theresa got back from Malaysia yesterday morning. After gym, instead of making a quick dash to the station to catch the 7:08, I casually got into my car and drove to Tullamarine. I got there just before 8am, and when Theresa called to say she was just only about to retrieve her luggage from the carousel, I realised it may take a while before she could get out.

At the dinner at Oliver’s last Sunday, there was a conversation on the parking in the airport. Someone said you can no longer pick passengers from the arrival gate; apparently this is a security consequence from the Glasgow airport incident. J said when he went to pick his daughter he was warned and was told he would be issued an infringement notice for picking her up from a spot which he wasn’t supposed to. As I drove through the areas outside the arrival area, I realised it was filled with tour vehicles and there was a 1-minute pick-up section but it was right at the end of a long stretch.

Anyway, satisfied that I would have an area to ask Theresa to wait for me, I drove into the McDonald restaurant on Centre Road to wait. There wasn’t a spot to park in so after slowly circulating, I thought I might as well take my time through the drive-through for a coffee. This would prove to be my undoing.

Theresa finally rang, I drove up to pick her up and we headed off into the city. I was going to get into the office a little later and had hoped to get in by about 9am or slightly later. The drive from the airport into the office however, was reminiscent of my KL days. The traffic jam, though not quite of Jalan Sultan Ismail or Jalan Tun Razak proportions, felt like one of them. We had left the airport a bit after 8.30 but it took about an hour to get to St Kilda Rd, where the office was. The very short detour I made at McDonald’s at the airport for a tall flat white proved a disaster under these traffic conditions so that by the time I got into the office around 9.30am, I was a total wreck. Once in the building, I did an Asafa Powell to the men’s room and as I stood at the urinal swaying, I wept … from my eyes…

At the office that day, I was very disorientated. I think some of the waste product the disposal of which had been forcibly delayed, made its way to the brains and my thinking was a bit more unconventional for much of the day. It also turned out to be my birthday. I had a piss-up in a different sort of way I guess…

All up, it has been a sort of a zombie type of a week. I drift off to sleep in my bed with the laptop next to me, in Theresa’s place. Sometimes it just goes into screen saver mode the whole night for no reason. That laptop is going back into the briefcase. Theresa got back from Malaysia yesterday morning.

Prophecy: Howard Will Win in Nov 07

A political leader actually knows what to do and announces it and gets support for it.  They don’t announce committees.

Peter Costello the treasurer of Australia made that statement recently in a media interview. I didn’t quote that statement because it is such a great quip but more because in a quick way, it sifts out the essence of what makes a good head of government. It is not to give paternalistic advice or to make money for oneself and family members. It is certainly not to ignore what is truly going o n in the country and either sleeps his way through meetings or jet around to this part of the world. A good head of government has to determine what is best for the country, device a plan to achieve the desired outcome, gets support for it and goes out to implement that plan.

What the Liberal Party (and its junior member, the National Party) has recently done is to highlight the deficiency of Kevin Rudd and his Labor Party on this count. Perhaps as a result, we now have polls showing the Liberal/National coalition going somewhere other than south for the first time. It has reversed the trend of the past few months. Costello and Howard have recently been more successful in showing that Kevin Rudd and the Labor Party has no coherent policies. In fact they don’t have any. Even the shadow treasurer, Wayne Swan, had put up his hand and admitted he is no economist. I have never liked him and as cocky as Costello sometimes appear, he at least has substance. Wayne Swan too, appears cocky and arrogant but he appears a lot flakier. The environment shadow minister is an ex-rock star (Peter Garrett of Midnight Oil fame) who at one point wasn’t aware of basic environmental programs existing in Australia. The shadow industrial relations minister (Julia Gillard) promised to “rip-up” work choices legislation when elected but has no coherent replacement policy. She has in fact said work choices would remain well into this decade and may not be touched till 2012. In other words she does not have any idea – she would continue with the current government program for industrial relations. What many fear is that this vacuum would be hijacked by trade unions, who continue to have very strong influences over the Labor Party.

All of this isn’t really exciting. You can pick up any newspaper in Australia or tune in to any radio or television station and you’d get the necessary stories and commentaries over these and other issues.

What is really intriguing is the fact that a church minister has come out and said, virtually in public, that Howard and Costello would win a November election. He titled a short message “Prophetic Word Regarding the Federal Election 2007”. That is an extremely brave statement to make. That minister said he met with Howard and Costello over a month ago, spoke with each of them separately and also prayed with them. That statement was said to have been made on 11 August 2007. The really interesting points are that Howard would be re-elected in a November election, and he would hand over the leadership to Costello “sometime after”. If this was really said over a month ago, that statement would have especially gained a lot more traction in the past week. Howard was on the verge of being dumped by the Liberal Party.

Political commentators (including Andrew Bolt, my current favourite columnist) have pined for Howard’s resignation, saying that offered the best hope for a Liberal fight back. Bolt had cited several examples in the past, including Bill Hayden’s handing over of the Labor Party reins to Bob Hawke on the very day Malcolm Fraser called an election. Hawke of course, went on to win the election. Costello of course, does not have the wide popularity Hawke had. The cabinet had met and had wanted to do a Brutus on Howard, only for Costello to refrain from plunging the knife. Could it be that he paid heed to this church minister? He could of course, have gone with the wishes of his cabinet colleagues and dumped Howard. But that would have been to ignore the “prophetic word” and taken things into his hands and the hands of his fellow (human) colleagues.

By all accounts, many who cared for the Liberal/National coalition thought Costello should have done it. He was accused of “lacking ticker” for holding back. The fact that he did not do it, and let Howard continue to lead, and the fact that Howard then undertook to continue being PM well after the election but would hand over to Costello some time during the next term, gave the “prophetic word” a lot of credence. It is especially stark given Howard’s and Costello’s action went against what many thought was political wisdom and absolutely necessary for Liberal survival. The fact that both of these very wise and experienced leaders didn’t do what many experts thought they should have done, gave the “prophetic word” even more colour. I got really excited when I read that message last night, just before I left the office. When I thought about it today, I said “wow” again.

Is there a catch to all this? I don’t know – I really don’t want to sound like doubting Thomas and cast a shadow over this really exciting stuff, but that church minister did throw in a proviso. He said this:

I will boldly declare that Prime Minister John Howard will be re-elected in the November election (if the Body of Christ unites in prayer and action) and pass the leadership onto Peter Costello sometime after.

When does a prophecy depend on the prayer of Christians? The prophecies in the bible are never dependent in this way (as far as I know). The outcome of certain events can very well be affected by prayers of Christians and they often do. We can for example, be concerned over Labor party philosophies which tend to be humanistic and exclude God and for that reason, pray for more Godly persons to be victorious in elections. That however is not a prophecy. That is a case of answered prayers. To qualify a prophecy in this way somehow makes it a lesser case of God planning to do something and more a case of we wanting something and made an appeal to God to let what we want come to fruition. Often – where what we want is in accordance with His plans – God answers our petition but that isn’t fulfilment of a prophecy. It is a petition granted.

Weekend Without Theresa

It has been such a disorientating week and a half. Two weekends ago Theresa wasn’t feeling too well and her visit to the doctor’s that Saturday morning left her reeling for pretty much the whole weekend. Then it was a busy week for me and while putting out little fires in the workplace, we had also begun to address little matters which needed attention for the new home. They all added up and created a bit of a hazy and spinning sort of atmosphere – like things are very unsettled. Then Theresa was off on Tuesday night. She’d be away for a week and though we communicate through phone and emails a lot, it isn’t the same.

Even after what – 15 years, I still feel great when she’s around and not so great when she isn’t. I don’t know how one copes when one loses a life partner. I dare not even think about it.

Two days ago (Saturday) I took kiddo on the train to Flinders’ Station. From there we hopped on a tram down St Kilda Road and stopped at the Domain Interchange. We walked the couple of hundred of metres or so, to come to Mac Robertson Girls High School. It was my second time there, having handed in her acceptance papers about a month or so ago. It still looked a bit old to me but for kiddo it was a great looking place. We walked around the school compound a bit and on the way back, I kept asking her to trace the steps – the train to take, the station to get off, the exits to take, the tram stops, etc. I hope she feels comfortable using these transport modes when the time comes.

After leaving the school, we tracked into the city and she said she needed food so we found a dumpling place. It was a tiny grotty place in the middle of the tourist belt on Swanston St. The food was forgettable but cheap and it was what kiddo wanted. After dinner we walked around the city, ending up in Myer to look at iPod dockers. Closer to 6pm, we made our way to Melbourne Central thinking we were going home when on a whim and fancy, decided to take in a movie as well, since Hoyts was in the Melbourne Central complex. Bourne Ultimatum looked good, though kiddo was a bit apprehensive. She said she hadn’t watched the first two so wasn’t sure she could follow this one. In reality I suspect it wasn’t her kind of movie. It was my kind of movie and I was paying so we watched it. I loved it. We got home well after 9pm and on the way home we had heard Hawthorn were taking a bit of a hammering from Kangaroos, much to my disappointment. I had taken to the Hawks recently and had been seriously thinking about choosing them as the club to root for. I still think I’ll do that, no Grand Finals notwithstanding.

At church yesterday, the recent drive to get involved in missions and be the “salt & light of the world” stepped up. The letter to appeal against loosening abortion laws was finalised and I now need to follow through with the final touches of getting the corporate version signed and mailed out. I must also remember to mail out my personal version.

Last night kiddo and I joined some church friends for dinner out in bush-town. I don’t mean to disparage the suburbs – I am an inhabitant. I mean only that it feels so far. It’s about 30 minutes drive for us into the city. We were at Berwick for dinner last night however, and it was about 30 minutes further out east from where we were. Had we been city dwellers it would have been a 1-hour drive each way. The restaurant (Oliver’s on Clyde) was alright and the food was okay but the company was pleasant and kiddo seemed to enjoy it so it was good. It was however a late night and by the time we got home, it was almost 10.30pm. After fixing lunch, etc it was well past 11pm…it was a very tiring weekend, and I miss my wife…

Involvment at the Political Fringe

J is a leader of the church we have been attending for the past 3 years, here in Melbourne. He is one of the 6 but I think he’s a de facto chairman of the board sort of a person. We haven’t had a pastor since April of last year so sometimes in a teasing mode, we call him Pastor J as well. He’s a good sport so it’s all taken in a light hearted manner. Yesterday, he made a raft of announcements, which is unusual. He tended to be short on administrative details at time, probably because he has so much to do. He holds down a full time job, has 2 teenage kids and his wife works full time as well. So he has as much time as the rest of us yet there he is, virtually “pastoring” a church as well. So while he tends to be short on details, we understand. I have in recent past, urged him to consider hiring a part time administrator, so address this. So I wonder if last Sunday’s pile of announcements was a response to my urging and possible of others who felt the same way.One of the things he announced was the church’s respond to recent announcements by the Brumby Government of Victoria, to decriminalise abortion. I’ve written a draft letter for the church to send to the relevant ministers as well as the local member for Glen Waverley, one Maxine Morand whose office is on Montclair Avenue – she is the neighbour of that law office I used to work in. The relevant ministers are I suppose, the Attorney General (Rob Hulls) and the minister for children and women’s affair, who as it turns out, is also Ms Morand the local member for Glen and Mount Waverley. The content of that letter is then repeated and sent by individual church members to their individual members of parliament. There was a member who has been actively involved in politics, often attending conservative organised prayer functions as well as public rallies. When it was first announced that I was preparing a draft letter, this member approached me and provided me with some material and references. It was obvious the political leaning was conservative so I felt duty bound to inform J. I kept a deliberate neutral tone in the letter, choosing only to appeal to God’s standards as a basis. That letter has now been distributed and I wonder if Australian politicians would take kindly to an act like this…

Submitting to Authority?

The recent independent day celebrations in Malaysia have, as one may expect, stirred a number of publications into putting out pieces on challenges facing Malaysia today. I sent one of these (from The Economist) to a number of people and it generated a little heat. That has lead to the creation of a new blog for certain family members to further talk about this and other issues. It also lead to the discussion of that age-old issue of what do we do with a government we don’t agree with?


This latter issue was raised in conjunction with obedience to Romans 13. That chapter started with a call to submit to the authority of the existing government. Of course, in a modern democracy, you fight like crazy to have your preferred candidate making the laws and no matter what the outcome of your fight, you have to remain law abiding citizens. That is an obvious starting point. Our natural instinct tells us however, that it is a relative and malleable principle. It doesn’t take much to respond, at the very next breath, with a yes-but. The holocaust jumps out in a flash in a topic like this. Hitler, Stalin, Mao, modern Serbia, Rwanda and most recently, Zimbabwe are regimes which scream out against an unqualified plain reading of Roman 13.


The problem with qualifying any part of the scriptures is it invites analyses and second guessing, based on our values which are subjective by definition. When that happens it becomes a free for all and you might as well throw away the bible. On the other hand, you have references such as Acts 5:29 in which Peter clearly qualifies Romans 13. Is that the answer then? I guess it must be. You can and must only submit to the authority of a government which has not clearly violated God’s standards. Peter himself has echoed Paul’s advice – see 1 Peter 2:17. Yet Peter in Acts 5:29 clearly said obedience to God must take precedence.


I have made numerous entries on my feelings on the deeds (or more accurately, misdeeds) of the rulers of Malaysia. I don’t know they are clear violations against God’s laws – I suspect so but have not clearly pinned it down. I have not openly rebelled against any particular law of Malaysia. I have merely spoken up against many of its policies and practices. I guess instead of staying and chancing deterioration and prospects of actually violating Romans 13, I opted instead to avoid the issue. I simply thought it wasn’t worth it. Maybe it isn’t the issue of not being law abiding citizens so much as an issue of opting out of an unsatisfactory regime