At The G Again, Joshua and… Pilgrimage?


We resumed our Friday night dinner in a local joint. This time, it was a Lebanese restaurant at the Forest Hill Chase. It’s called “Mazaj” and it was a really nice place. We had asked Jason and Mel to join us and it was a wonderful evening of catching up over some very delicious food, friendly service and beautifully presented surroundings.

On Saturday, we pottered around after taking the little ones for a walk – more leisurely than on weekdays. I then cleaned out some air conditioning and rangehood filters, before we headed out for our groceries and lunch. Later that arvo, I fixed my pushbike to get it ready for rides to work in the coming weeks. The front breaks had been a bit fiddly but (hopefully) that’s fixed now. I also got other bits and bobs fixed, like the D lock bracket and the holder straps on the back. It was a hot and humid arvo and I was drenched when it was all done. I then joined Tress and the little guys on the oval before coming back for a quick shower to end the day.

After St Alf’s on Sunday, we hurried home and got ready for Hawthorn’s first game of the season. It was great to be back at the G, with clapping, cheering, roars and groans and shouts of “ball!” (i.e., holding the ball, a no-no in Aussie rules football – you have to get rid of the ball tackled etc.). All those little experiences in a spectator sport in an open arena amongst tens of thousands of people, were always going to be invigorating for an otherwise “ground hog days” existence. Other than of course, the recognition that our life must be lived in the light of what God is doing.

St Alf’s has been doing a series on the book of Joshua. The narratives that involved killing off whole communities have been disturbing. So Peter looked at those narratives in the context of what God is doing – from the promise to Abraham to what Jesus completed on the cross. Along with filler ideas like use of hyperbole those narratives presentated differently, perhaps less unpalatable. I’ve also continued to listen to podcasts of Tim Keller’s sermons and together, I’m asking again, what I need to do to live our a life that reflects I am not my own, but I am His. John Bunyan’s pilgrim I need to be.

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…