A Wedding, Night Away for the Boys, and Old Klang folks.


We skipped St Alf’s last Sunday. We had to get the two furry boys off to a sitter in Ashburton, in the hope of being able to attend the wedding of Tress’ cousin without having to worry about them.

Later that Sunday morning, as I took out a suit I thought I’d wear for the occasion, I fished out a little booklet from the inside pocket of the jacket. It was the wedding program of Sarah and Edwin. We had attended their wedding in Sydney in February 2020. We hadn’t been to another wedding since and I hadn’t used that suit either – another covid affected aspect of our lives.

Kathleen is the youngest of Uncle Seng (Paul) and Auntie Ann. She had just started high school when we first got here. There she was on Sunday arvo, walking down the aisle with both her parents on either side, in St Mary’s church at St Kilda East. Her husband David looked calm when we all waited for the bride to arrive. The church ceremony was short but meaningful and beautiful.

After the wedding we hung around and took pictures, before heading off to a pub at Punt Rd to have drinks and catch up with the relatives. We hadn’t caught up like that for a while so it was really nice. We then made our way to Albert Park Lake for the reception. The wines were pretty good which meant Tress had to drive home, as I snoozed in the car. We had worried about the furry boys earlier in the night, when the carer messaged Tress to say he had been howling.

We picked them up earlier than planned the next day. We couldn’t believe how much we missed them. We have been with them virtually 24/7 for the past 2 years (just under 1 year, in the case of the younger one). Tress is planning/hoping to be in Malaysia in June for her mum’s 80th, and I wondered how we/I would manage the boys, when that happens.

When we got home late morning, I did the lawns and Tress got a message from Li Har to ask if we wanted to catch up with them later that night. He dad has been visiting and was going home to Malaysia today. We said yes, and after I was done, we washed up, and went and got some fruits for a platter Tress then made to bring along.

At Alex and Li Har’s there were numerous families, most of them from Klang, and it was really nice to piece together where each fitted in the Klang community. Not for the last time, we were all amazed at how small the world can be if we tried to connect the dots. There was a guy whose father once owned a medical practice that Tress’ uncle took over. Then there was another elderly gentleman who used to be a supplier to Tress’s dad’s family textile business. We also met a paeditrician who Kiddo used to see when she was little and we were in Klang. It was just a lovely and strange feeling to make all these connections. We left early as we had to go back to work the next day. It had been a long weekend, with Monday being a Labor Day public holiday, and it was a long weekend with plenty of catching up/meeting with people who occupied precious spots in our paths.

2022 – Annus Horribilis in the making?


I remember Queen Elizabeth making a speech many years ago, where she said it was an “annus horribilis”. I just looked it up and it was 1992. I thought it was more recent than that but obviously time has flown by. That was nearly 30 years ago now.

Was this year – 2022 – going to be another annus horribilis? The past two years have felt pretty ordinary, so much so that I think I wouldn’t be alone in thinking surely we’re due for a break and this year would be better.

Covid continued its devastation and ravaged the start of the year with Omicron. Kabul/Afghanistan, China’s aggression, Putin’s bloody mindedness, and closer to home, ScoMo’s floundering. As worrying and disturbing as all of those were, none of them touched so many raw nerves as what happened between last Friday night and Saturday morning.

I woke up very early on Sat morning (for a pee) and couldnt go straight back to sleep. So I scrolled through my phone and caught someone saying how sad it is, to lose a great cricket icon. I think it was Jane Hume, the Victorian senator who made that post on FB. I thought she was talking about Rod Marsh but it would have been a bit unusual, as she is often very quick off the mark and Rod Marsh’s passing was nearly 24 hours ago (at that time). Then I caught that she was saying Shane Warne. I couldn’t believe what I saw and I looked up a few more sources and it was true. It blew me away. I turned to Tress and whispered to her “Shane Warne has died”. She muttered something to the effect that she was shocked.

For the rest of Sat morning, little else crossed my mind. That single news item overwhelmed the media. The greatest cricketer in the last 20-30 years, one of the all time greats, who was in the prime of his after-playing years, is gone. Only 52 years old. His commentary has been my goto – I always listened with more interest when he made observations in the course of a match. He was so very engaging and a great communicator.

I then thought about Sim several times that morning. Life can indeed be – is – fleeting. I also remembered Shelley’s line in Adonais that said something about life being a multicoloured dome that interrupted the radiance of a white light. I looked it up. It reads like so:

The One remains, the many change and pass;
Heaven’s light forever shines, Earth’s shadows fly;
Life, like a dome of many-colour’d glass,
Stains the white radiance of Eternity,

Until Death tramples it to fragments.—Die,
If thou wouldst be with that which thou dost seek!
Follow where all is fled!—Rome’s azure sky,
Flowers, ruins, statues, music, words, are weak
The glory they transfuse with fitting truth to speak.

How has life become so frantic I can no longer think or try to write like that. I have even lost the inclination to look up verses like that…

Closer to home, Tress had a tough day at work yesterday. Two of her colleagues have resigned. Both are her higher ups, and had been responsible for selecting and implementing a new ERP system that has dogged the organisation for the worse part of last year and has continued to wreak havoc in 2022. Yesterday, the little Padawan picked up a nasty bug while at the oval and came home in a sickly way. He got sick several times and looked a sad thing for the most part of the night. He was better this morning but right through yesterday, I wondered how tough 2022 has been. Would it be another annus horribilis? Or would the Lord relent? My reading at this time is the book of Job. I guess that just sort of nails the theme and I need to just keep my head down and let the Lord be God, and remind myself that I’m not.

Back in the office


First day back in the office since 2022 came around!

The idea that we can work from home indefinitely, while appealling in so many way, was never going to hold up. We’ve “gone to work” for as long as I can remember. Sure, many work in and around the home so these folks seldom have to leave home to do their work. Many, if not most people however, need to leave home to get to work.

So here I am today – hopefully there aren’t too many adjustments to make and I will be able to settle into a rhythm of some form of hybrid arrangement, before too long.

When good and bad is crystal clear


Someone mentioned, yesterday morning, that in the front pages of news coverage, COVID stories have been replaced by the war in Ukraine. War is upon us. Many believe this is not a war of the Russians’ making. It is a war of Putin’s making.

So in a special prayer meeting in St Alf’s yesterday afternoon, many prayed that Putin would change, or be removed. He comes across however, as a very powerful person in Russia so I’m not sure his removal is a realistic hope and yet, that’s why we pray. God can and often does, work wonders.

For the sake of the people of Ukraine (and many other parts of Europe), I sincerely hope God works his wonders, and soon.

Sunday morning at St Alf’s was special in that for the first time in nearly 2 years, not only can we meet freely, but also without having to wear a mask. It was wonderful to see familiar, whole faces again.

In recent weeks, some old colleagues have made contacts. Michael Loke and Philip Koh, through Lim Liang Hua, made contact after so many years. Philip is preparing to give some talks in a Monash Malaysia Business School and he wanted to cite the Phileo experience. “The Phileo Story”, a book that was recently re-published, told a story of an enterprise that is a microcosm of corporate Malaysia. Philip wanted some inputs, from a “field soldier” I suppose, as data for his presentation.

It made me recall some hairy experiences and I guess for the first time since nearly 20 years ago, I shared those experiences with David, my brother. He said he never asked why we moved out of Malaysia to come and live in Melbourne but he guessed it had something to do with what happened when I was at Phileo.

Men like Putin and Mahathir make decisions and take actions that cause all sorts of upheavels in many lives. Why do they not care? Can their “larger, macro visions” simply dismiss considerations of micro concerns? I know there are always complex permutations of issues and there can be no perfect outcomes – there will always be adverse unintended consequences – but there are decisions and actions that can be nothing but bad, evil even. Surely they – men like Putin and Mahathir – know when such decisions and actions are before them.

Why do I keep reading the papers?


I normally start the day with letting the dogs out. Then it’s my reading time (Bible) and then I go for a walk/jog before I come back, get cleaned up, have brekky and then into my study to start the work day.

All useful tasks so far.

Then I start to look at some headlines in the papers, and the futility of the day starts.

CS Lewis on newspapers

Increasingly, I wonder why I bother reading the papers anymore. News mostly don’t really reflect what most people think or how they live. Opinion pieces only add to the state of confusion. There are experts or opinion writers on opposite sides of just about any issue you can think of, and increasingly the tent has shrunk so that you’re either in or out, either in this tent or the one across the ditch. Differing opinions no longer live together. So a lay person who just reads stuff on papers or any other non specialist publications, no longer knows what to think.

A piece in The Australian is what make all this gel enough for me to make this entry. It’s about mask wearing during this pandemic. Covid 19 was christened in 2019 so this is into its “4th” year now. This piece said “experts” like Dr Anthony Fauci and other in WHO had said mask wearing was useless. They said this in March 2020. As late as 31 March 2020, scientists in the National Institutes of Health (the umbrella body that Dr Fauci is part of) said masks didnt make any difference. This echoed what WHO said. But – on 3 April 2020, all that changed and masks suddenly became very important. It has been since and today, you can’t go into any building or public indoor places, without wearing one. I often feel stupid wearing one when I’m shopping, in a restaurant, or in church. Yet I wear one because apparently, “experts” (now) say it makes a difference.

I no longer want to read (or watch/listen to) “experts”. Maybe there are just too many people thinking they ought to have a say and be listened to.

Experts’ Folly

Times are “a changing”


Recent sports headlines are showing how sophisticated leading characters of our nations’ major sporting codes have become.

Pat Cummins is the captain of the Australian Cricket Team. He’s come under fire in recent days for his role in the sacking of Justin Langer, the coach. Yesterday, after days of screaming silence, he fronted the press. What he said showed how calm, thoughtful and sophisticated the new captain is. He’s more than just a millenial woke young man. He is perceptive, considerate and well… impressive!

Here’s a clip from The Australian newspaper today.

A second story to have grabbed the headlines was on the alleged behaviour of Simon Goodwin, the senior coach of the Melbourne Footy Club (AFL). Melbourne are the reigning champions and loom large as a club to beat in coming seasons, so this is a big story. He was alleged to have been abusive and bullying towards the ex club doctor. His reaction too, showed strength and a sophisticated take on what the press had simply tried to make out as bad behaviour on his part. In other words, I was impressed with this reaction too.

Here’s a clipm from the Herald Sun today.

I’m really encouraged that these two are not letting the press set the agenda. They calmly fielded what the press threw at them and said stuff that made the public think a bit more. It’s about time we saw more of that – standing against the apparent tide and say hang on….

Something to be positive about, I guess…

2022


I can’t believe January 2022 has come and gone. It has been a bit of a whirlwind few weeks, and I’ve been sloppy with my entries here.

Kiddo and Mic came down to Melbourne about a week before Christmas, but headed off to Tassie the next day for a wedding. They came back a couple of days before Christmas and it was lovely having them here for a couple of weeks. We ate a lot, walked a lot, and went to various places just for fun. We got together at Jason and Mel’s on Christmas Eve and it was really nice to catch up with the usual guys, including the Hipos and made some new friends. We went out to Docklands on New Year’s Eve and I think that’s what got Kiddo done for – she came down with strong symptoms of Omnicron. They went out to a clinic in Glen Waverley to get a PCR test and queued for about 5 hours but got turned away at the last minute and with rapid antigen test kits in short supply, they never got tested. Tress and I later picked up symptoms too but for the same reasons, we never got tested. We simply isolated ourselves for about 10 days and then only went out sparingly.

Kiddo and Mic went back to Canberra in the second week of 2022, and life returned to normal for everyone. Tress and I have continued working from home however, as this quick spreading Omnicron has returned most workplaces to that working mode. I think the dogs (particularly Oreo, the younger one – “Padawan”) missed Milo, Kiddo and Mic’s dog, and Oreo’s ears would prick up when we mention Milo.

Working from home meant I had to put up with the building activities on our neighbouring lot (eastern side). The demolition work started towards the end of last year and they’d been prepping the concrete slab, which is now all poured and set as of a couple of days ago. At the same time, we received a notice from our local council that our other neighbour (on the northern side, adjoining our backyard) is applying for a building permit. They’d be demolishing the existing house and will put up a large 4 bedroom double storey new home. So, it looks like the building/construction activities will go on for a while around us.

That got us thinking about what we should do with our own home. It’s our 15th year here now and I said to Tress the other day, that we’d probably need to only think about this more seriously about 5 years from now.

I have been reading through the books of 1 & 2 Kings and 1 Chronicles and one of the constant themes about David was he always turned to the Lord as a first port of call, before embarking on anything. I think Tim Keller said in one of his messages (I’d been listening to his podcasts) that for most of us, we’d think, plan, come up with options and strategies and then commit all of that to our Lord. David simply turned to Him and probably then did the rest. I’ve been thinking if I should start to put the David model to practice, and really acknowledge that God is God, and Lord.

I picked up another weber barbie a couple of weeks ago – it’s a kettle with a cart, called the “Performer”. I had a first cook last weekend and the chicken was super juicy. I’m hoping a pork belly will be my next cook. Jason said this was my new toy and I guess he’s right.

So, as the new year kicked in, as I continue to plough away at my new role and look at all the construction/building activities around me, I hope I turn to the Lord as a first port of call, on a more regular basis. Meanwhile, I’ll have some fun with my new toy.

Year End


It’s the last working day of the year. Like many, I feel like I’m dragging myself to fall across the finishing line. I’ve been exhausted (or feel like I’ve been) for weeks now. I’m looking forward to Christmas not just because it is a wonderful time of the year, but also because I can look forward to some time of rest.

There will be a Christmas party in the office around noon. A spit roast has been organised for the outdoor cafe area, and I’m curious to find out what that’s going to look like. I have also responded for a request for volunteers to help with the set up but somehow, I’ve been roped in for the clean up instead. That’s ok – I can use the activities one way or the other.

Kiddo and Mic are visiting – they arrived last Thursday, but headed out to Tassie the next day for a wedding last weekend. They came back to Melbourne on Tuesday so it has been wonderful with them staying with us.

With covid still raging, St Alf’s has placed limits on number of participants at Christmas services and organised more services to make up for it. So instead of the usual Christmas Eve service, we’ve registered for one tonight. It’ll be a mixed feelings event – on the one hand, it’d be great to be in church singing carols and listening to readings again, but on the other hand, to have so few people – maximum of 250, but only about 170 registered for tonight – will be a bit unusual.

After a tumultous and eventful 2020 and 2021, I wonder what 2022 will bring. It is always interesting to see what God has in store around the corner.