Staying Sane

I’m into week 3 of working from the study in our home. I’m starting to get used to this. Especially with the little fellow sitting at my feet, often under the desk.

I’ve been stopping work each day at the office, at 4pm or thereabouts, to peel an orange. Everyone in the office knows this is what I do. I still do it now, at home. I now peel however, 2 oranges. 3 of us share these 2 oranges. Tress and the little fellow appear to enjoy the 4pm orange as much as I do.

There has been a raft of alteration to our routine.

Sundays, however, continue to see the core activities undertaken. St Alf’s after brekky, but we now sit at our dining table, with a cup of coffee in hand, to participate in the service. Yesterday, after St Alf’s, we pottered in the front garden while we waited for Arjun the plumber, to show up. He arrived late morning, just after 11am. Our very old heater hadn’t been serviced for the longest time, but it has now been serviced.

Arjun had started the work on Saturday morning. We were also working on the front yard while we waited for him. When he finally arrived late morning, he checked the heater, tested for carbon monoxide emission (thankfully nil) and serviced the whole thing and replaced a capacitor. I guess we’re more ready now, to be at home through the winter, if we needed to.

After Arjun left yesterday morning, we tidied up the place, I finished the work in tidying the front yard and footpath, and then we ordered and picked up lunch from a Vietnamese place in Mount Waverley. Proud Peacock continues to serve fresh and delicious Vietnamese fare, but only via takeaways.

After lunch at home, I prepped to cook some of the week’s lunches. That hasn’t changed.

I had wanted, from about Friday night, to check out an MX5 way yonder in Greensborough. I’ve been experiencing separation anxiety since we sold the other one. I hope to land on an NC2 PRHT with manual transmission, and saw this beauty owned by a lady way yonder. It has Recaro seats and BBS 18 inches wheels to boot. It really looked good. However, I had no peace about going to Greensborough under present circumstances. ScoMo has now tightened our freedom even more, and for very good reasons. So I texted the lady on Saturday night, telling her my concerns.

That beautiful specimen of a wonderful car may or may not still be available at the end of this phase. Like all other aspects of life at this time, I hope to emerge “on the other side” on a footing that sees everything budding again.

On Saturday, while Arjun was working above the ceiling, I sat in my study, at my desk, waiting for his callouts for tools, instructions to turn the heater on/off, and generally assist him. As I waited, I watched old footy games on the AFL website. That was good in some ways I guess. The series of “last 2 minutes” videos were very exciting and it made waiting on Arjun less unbearable.  I also watched clips of various things – Robin Williams, Paul Simon, Paul Kelly… I wonder how many others are now so reliant on YouTube and other web broadcasts, to stay sane.

Mental health has been another concern, so this morning, in the handful of work emails I’ve sent out so far, I’ve wished them a sane day. I hope everyone I know remain not just safe and healthy, but sane, through this COVID 19 madness.




The Virus Burrows

Tress and I finished our first week of working from home, last Friday, and went out to a local joint for a quick dinner. That would probably be our last eating out occasion for a little while. Or a longish while.

Saturday morning, we lumbered in bed and woke later than usual. We had decided to give the house a  good cleaning so after a late-ish brekky we set out to attack the tasks. By about lunch time the house felt cleaner and fresher. We went out again for lunch and sort of extended what must surely, and soon, become an inevitability. We had a good lunch in a local joint again – a different one, but like dinner the night before, we packed away to doggy bag it, about half of what we ordered, to stock up in our freezer.

After lunch, we took my car for a wash and back home, the weather was really pleasant so I gave the inside of the car a good cleaning too, before we then walked the little fellow.

Early on Sunday morning, I saw that St Alf’s had posted a link for the online service that would be immediately available for anyone to access. Tress message the home group to let them know and after an interrupted streaming while remaining in bed, we got up, did brekky and then took my work laptop to do the online service again. Lauren Weatherlake gave a very good sermon and Mike McNamara had a very useful Psalms 46 reading as well. At least one of the songs was comforting and even uplifting.

Online services will now be another one of many new normals and soon we saw on social media, numerous postings of online services.

Later that morning, I cooked lunch, and watched “For the love of cars” on Amazon. It was a wonderful distraction to see a couple of blokes in the UK pick up discarded old non-functioning but exotic and beautiful cars, and restored them to beautiful firing machines.

After lunch, we went out for a little bit to see if we could get more groceries, as news of imminent shut down/lock down start to emerge. ScoMo and Daniel Andrews were constantly providing announcements and updates on consequences of the dreaded virus.

The Hawks were to play the Lions at the MCG later in the arvo and towards the end of the second quarter, news began to emerge that the AFL season would be suspended. The second half saw the Hawks continuing to outplay the Lions to build their half time lead but it felt flat. Footy, like everything else, would soon cease and quiet and inert days are descending everywhere.

I was reading Greg Sheridan’s article this morning, where he relayed his discussion with Lee Hsien Loong, the Prime Minister of Singapore. Singapore has had much milder fallout from the virus, which is pretty amazing given how densely populated the island state is. The key to combating the virus’ fallout, the PM shared, was contact tracing. Affected contacts were traced rigorously and isolation monitored closely. I guess culturally, western communities would more likely resist that. Privacy, confidentiality and other values that place individuality on a higher priority than community interests are not what the current climate wants. In that sense, the “eastern”/”non-western” practice of subjugating individual interests to that of the community, is what the doctor ordered. I don’t quite like that. What I don’t like however, counts for little if anything.

Last night more work was required from the office so I was on email and phone, and working on docs etc for a little while, as I was earlier in the morning. It felt like I was working more than I was pre-virus days. Seeing how guys like ScoMo and Daniel Andrews and other like them work practically round the clock however, puts my own effort in its place…

As I write, events continue to develop and evolve. One is pushed to turn to one’s maker and in addition to seeking solace, comfort, peace and normality, asks “What are you doing through all this Lord? What is your purpose and what are you working at?” Psalms 46 is very helpful.

2020 – Annus Horribilis Status Cemented

The Queen of England’s infamous “annus horribilis” was already very applicable from the get go, for 2020. Now it feels like a race to the bottom, to cement this year as one of the worst ever.

Last Friday, an email went out in the office, saying staff would be required to work from home for at least a couple of weeks. Each team is designated an office day, so we only go in one day a week. My boss rang me very soon after the email went out, to ensure we could work from home, and asked us to leave for the day if we could. He himself had been working from home that morning.

I left the office soon after 1pm, after ensuring I took everything I needed. Back home, Tress and I headed out to a computer shop and I picked out a computer monitor. The laptop is ok to work on occasionally but on an extended basis, I needed a screen, and the boss had himself suggested this when we spoke.

Home after picking up the screen, I set up our study room to facilitate working from home for the next couple of weeks. It felt surreal.

Over the weekend, things developed so quickly and more and more public events and places are shut down. Gatherings of 500 people or more are banned and all arrivals into Australia will be required to self isolate for 14 days. St Alf’s met yesterday but Peter made a special notice to say more events may be shut down, and other measures like stopping the chalice and peace greetings, as well as not passing the offertory bag, have been put in place.

We spent Sat just pottering around. I had a bad back and I guess we were generally just gloomy with what’s happening.  We went out grocery shopping and bought a little more than usual in case we were required to stay home. Tress had also bought a few extra items the day before. Tress needed new shoes for work so after a late lunch of sorts we headed out to another shopping centre out east to look for a pair. We then got home, walked the little fellow, and then settled down and I prepped to cook the week’s meal the next day.

After St Alf’s on Sunday and a quick lunch, we headed home and I picked up the gardening work I had neglected the day before. The back hedges were trimmed and Ryan, our ex-neighbour who had been working to prep the house for sale, borrowed the hedge trimmer – probably for the last time – to trim his side of the hedges on the front side. So I was forced – sort of – to also work on the front side where he had worked on his side, just so things are evened out. I guess it’s not against my interest to make his sale as good as it can be…

Gardens done, I got cleaned up and did the week’s cook. The freezer then looked well stocked for at least a week. The news continue to show people shopping frantically and Ryan had also said he was struggling to buy enough food to feed his always hungry teenager. I hope all this work out soon. Hopefully we all get to “flatten the curve” with all the “social distancing” and other measures put in place.

I sincerely hope 2020 doesn’t get any more horrible than it already is.

Plumbing, Red Center.

Last Friday morning, as I was doing my usual exercise in front of the television, a loud noise droned away just outside the house. I couldn’t work out the source when I went outside to check it out, thinking at that time it was the air conditioning or the evaporative cooler, or even the hot water system. It was still dark when I checked and seeing nothing untoward, I left for the train station as I normally do.

When I got to the station, I noticed I had forgotten the phone, as I had been thinking about getting the big Maglite out to do the checking for the noise source. I went back home and as I said to Tress there’s a loud noise from the front and side of the house. I took the phone and headed out to the station again. Just as I was walking up the ramp to the platform at the station, Tress rang to say there appears to be a plumbing issue, and the side of the front lawn had flooded out.

I went home again. Two unsuccessful attempts to leave for work probably are signs I was meant to be home that day. Back home, a couple of tradies who had been working in a neighbour’s home stood next to Tress on the eastern side of the front lawn. It became obvious there was a serious plumbing problem.

Tress and I then headed to her office for a shower (for her) and toilet for the both of us, before I rang the water company to report the problem. Later, I suspected it was an “internal” plumbing problem so I tried contacting our usual plumber, who could not do the job on the same day.

Arjun then responded to my HiPages ad, and early in the arvo, he showed up and had a look around, discussed the problem and solution, and agreed to help us with the problem. A main pipe into the house had had a bad breakage – there were a few gaping holes – and Arjun had to decide on the optimal solution.

With the problem identified and solution worked out, I felt peace at last. It was late in the arvo then and a little while later, Tress and I headed to our usual Friday night dinner. We went to a place just across the Ringwood Lake.

Arjun worked on the problem the whole of the following day. I helped around and worked by his side to assist with whatever he needed, as his crew had called in sick. He was an affable guy. Originally from Nepal, his Gurkha father lived and worked in Singapore for many years before moving to New Zealand. From there, they moved to Melbourne. We chatted while we worked, and it made the problem far less unpleasant. Tress helped too, with just tidying things up and she also vacuumed the house, which at the end of that long Saturday, made it all so much more restful. The little fellow also had an appointment with his groomer so the house wasn’t the only clean element. He felt and smelled clean and fresh and he was therefore even more huggable.

The plumbing work cost us far less than I feared, but more importantly, we had water again and even tiny things we noticed before, such as intermittent hot water disruptions, disappeared. Putting our feet up at last on Saturday night, was blissful. Tired and with a sense of relief, we looked forward at last, to a long weekend that we were meant to have.

Sunday after St Alf’s we headed out to the local Bunnings and picked out some stuff to complement the relocated and new lawn tap, and I then also did some Steer work as well as some office work.

On Monday, we slept in like we haven’t slept in for a long time. I had woken up early to watch United beat City at home (doing a double over them for the first time in 10 years!) and had happily returned to sleep after the game, which ended around 5.30am. We only woke up around 8.30am. After coffee and toasts, I did a bit more work before we headed out to the Burwood Brickworks shopping centre for a look see, and then going back to our usual haunt for lunch and to also keep an appointment with a travel agent.

We ended up spending nearly a couple of hours with the very helpful agent, to sew up a package to visit the red centre and the top end. I told Tress that I haven’t been that excited about a trip, for a while now. We’d be visiting a part of Oz I had wanted to visit, for a very long time now.

It was an eventful long weekend, even though the events all took place in or near the house. Localizing stuff around me, is what I have come to appreciate. So the local dream holiday is sounding pretty good now.

Schadenfreude. Hattrick. Mea Culpa.

I recently got roped into a WhatsApp chat group that was created by a group from my secondary school back in Klang. Named “Class of 82”, it is a bunch of ex La Sallians from Klang who are bathing in nostalgia.

Given the shemozzle that is Malaysian politics now, the current topic of conversations amongst Malaysians have been on a “WTF” approach. As I write, Muhyiddin Yassin has been appointed a Prime Minister of Malaysia. Mahathir Mohamad, the nonagenarian who was given the reigns in May 2018, has been tied up in knots by those of his coalition partners who continue to hold on to the idea that Malays must rule in Malaysia. Chinese, particularly those from the Democratic Action Party – DAP – must never be given any influence over how the country is ruled.

Muhyiddin Yassin was a deputy prime minister in Najib Razak’s government. He was an UMNO man for a very long time, before he left to join Mahathir Mohamad in the latter’s newly minted vehicle, “Bersatu” leading up to the May 2018 elections. I imagine it takes only a very small leap for him to return to his familiar cauldron of racial politics in upholding the eminence of Malays and subjugating the rights and interests of Chinese and Indians.

All that shenanigans in Malaysia only cemented our long vindicated position of bidding farewell to Malaysia all those years ago. Friend and ex-colleagues who still live there, now tell their children to build their homes away from that blighted country.

Other than those brouhahas, the weekend also saw a couple of comeuppances. Of sorts. The smug Chinese swimmer that is now a double confirmed drug cheat, Sun Yang, was finally dealt his long overdue penalty. He has been found guilty and banned for 8 long years, by CAS (Court for Arbitration for Sport). An arrogant cheat who thumbed his nose at fellow competitors who stood against his cheating ways, he had recklessly and arrogantly (and most probably stupidly) smashed vials containing his blood (and urine?) samples during a surprise drug test. He claimed procedural improprieties, but smashing those vials go beyond such claims, surely? I was very glad that the Aussie champion Mack Horton, has been vindicated. Some of my Facebook friends took issue with me when Mack Horton stood his ground during a world swimming competition and refused to share a podium with Sun Yang. We had extended exchanges then. I’m glad Mack Horton is vindicated now.

At St Alf’s on Sunday, Mike McNamara a minister, couldn’t resist mentioning Watford’s triumph over Liverpool in the English Premier League. They thumped the champions in waiting 3-0, and brought the latter’s long unbeaten run to a crushing halt. Like Gary Neville, I felt like popping a champagne.

I couldn’t help but soak in a sense of schadenfreude, and a hattrick at that. Malaysian politics and the circus that comes with that, Sun Yang’s validation as a drug cheat, and Liverpool’s stutter.

Sometimes, recognising I am such a sinner, brings a wicked smile nonetheless. Romans 7:15 bears on me but I couldn’t help but feel the wicked humour those events brought.

And of course, our usual weekend routine grounded away without abatement. The lawn and garden are tidied and clean, the meals (ours and the Little Black Jedi’s) cooked, grocery etc re-stocked, haircut done, etc etc etc….