Archive for January, 2011

After the Rain

No one in Australia could possibly be unaware of the terrible events in Queensland as flood waters have caused damage and destruction, and tragic loss of life. Over the past few days, we have also become aware of the fact that floods are occurring in Northern and Western Victoria, one of the towns affected being Horsham, were I spent most of my teenage years. I have been constantly in touch with my parents, who fortunately are in no immediate danger as they are well away from the swollen river, but it is a pretty nervous time. My wife’s parents are also currently cut off, they live in Murtoa.

It has been really lovely to have received so many questions and calls from friends inquiring about our families, and it reminds me of what a good hearted people Australians essentially are. In times like this you see the generosity, both of spirit and financially, that the people of this nation possess. Whether it was Black Saturday, or the Boxing Day Tsunami or the floods in Pakistan, Aussies are always willing to dig deep to help others.

If you want to support those struggling at this time, esepcially those in Queensland who from what I can see have it much worse than here in Victoria, there are numerous places you can give, but here are two that I think are reputable and worthwhile.

The Salvation Army

After the Rain Limited Edition Ebook

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Good Old Collingwood Forever

In sad, but not unexpected, news today, Paul Collingwood has announced his retirement from Test cricket as of the conclusion of the SCG Test.

I have always been a huge Collingwood fan, not least because to me he epitomises the sort of player I would like to be, someone who who is not as naturally talented as others, but wrings every last drop from the abilities he does have. To me, that is far more admirable than the lazy but brilliant who just phone it in and often don’t fulfill their potential because when everything comes easy there is no incentive to work hard and go that extra mile.

I am sure many articles will be written in the next few days, and I will try and link to a few here, but as an England supporter I just wanted to express my appreciation of such a great servant of English cricket. From his dogged rearguards that saved series (the last Ashes, South Africa) to his exceptional fielding (perhaps only Jonty Rhodes has been better in the last 20 years) he really has been one of the big contributors to the successh tat England is now experiencing. At least we will still get to see him in ODIs and T20s.

EDITED TO ADD: A great piece here from Andrew Miller that says it far better than I could. What more could any player ask than to be remembered like that?

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Idolatry in the Baggy Green Age

I have a lot of time for Justin Langer. He was a tough competitor, and as a devout Christian has been more than willing to donate his time to various good causes after his retirement.

That’s why I found this rather odd. Responding to comments from Mike Atherton (who I personally consider the best of the excricketers-turned-pundits brigade) that he felt were denigrating to the “Baggy Green“, Langer had this to say:

“Try telling every young kid playing in Australia that a baggy green isn’t something to aspire to,” Langer said.

“It’s like telling your own kids there’s no Santa Claus, monarchists that the crown jewels are a load of rubbish or a Christian that there is no God.”

Seriously? I am sure he didn’t mean it that way, but putting the Baggy Green on the same level as God is going a bit too far for my taste. I am a cricket tragic, but anyone who puts sport on that sort of level needs to get some perspective.

Since Steve Waugh‘s days, Australian cricketers have given the baggy green an almost totemistic place. While this has no doubt helped team bonding, and I am a firm believer in the importance and value of tradition and continuity, I tend to agree with Nasser Hussain that this is not where Australia’s years of domination sprang from, more from the coming together of a freakishly talented group of players.

It’s nice to know that it isn’t just in the church that people come to regard a symbol as valuable in itself, rather than being valuable because of what it represents!

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The Year that Was, and the Year that Will Be.

Hard to believe, but it is now 2011! I remember as a child watching a show called Beyond 2000 and I assumed that by now we would all be using jetpacks or living under the oceans. While this is not quite the case, it has been an exciting year for me in many ways and I thought I would run briefly through some of the highs and lows, and talk about my goals for the coming year.

It may seem a little pointless as I think my reading audience is about one (including me) but I did learn a very important lesson this year. After talking about it for a long time I got serious about weight loss, and as of today I have lost 20kg. The only way I was able to do this was by putting my goals out there, committing them to paper (virtual or otherwise) and creating that accountability so I, and others, could see if I had met them or not. So, even for my own purposes I am going to externalise my goals so that I have something to look back on and measure myself against.

But first…the Highs and Lows.

HIGHS

Specialling at Traralgon

This year I had the privilige of filling in for a few Sundays at Traralgon Corps as they were between officers. Going back to a country Corps reminded me of my days at Horsham, which was lovely, and the welcome I received was truly heart warming. Their enthusiasm reminded me of the great responsibility that one has when one is speaking anywhere, and it was great to know that what I presented was appreciated.

Weight Loss

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love my food. I don’t drink, or smoke or chase fast women (or slow women, for that matter) but food has always been my main vice. After working at THQ, with the constant morning teas and excellent canteen, my weight had ballooned and I was feeling unhealthy and not fitting into many of my clothes. So, I went on a concerted weight loss program. It was tough, settling for smaller portions and doing exercise, but I managed to lose 20kg and I feel great! I will be writing about this further in a future post.

Meeting one of my writing heroes, George R.R. Martin.

You can read all about it here. This was an incredibly inspiring experience for me. To meet one of my writing heroes was great, to find that he was a great person as well as a writer was even better.

My First Convention

See the link above, but I will add that if you want inspiration to knuckle down and write, a convention is just the thing to get you fired up.

Founding of the MYCA

Last year I was involved in the founding of the Mid Year Cricket Association as Secretary. Being part of this process was an interesting learning curve, and watching it grow from an idea to reality was very satisfying. It looks like it will continue to go from strength to strength and it is great to feel like I had a hand in it. The most credit, though, needs to go to John Hammer, the President, for his vision and driving force made it all possible.

LOWS

To be honest, it has been a pretty good year and I can’t think of any major lows. Surgery, and the resulting complications, wan’t fun, but it could have been a lot worse.

GOALS FOR 2011

I have divided this into two categories, things I can control and things that are out of my control. The first are things I that I need to make sure I do, and the second are things that I am aiming for, but all I can do is ensure I make my best possible effort and see how it goes. In July I will look back and see how I went. If I haven’t achieved all the ones in the first category I will have no one to blame but myself.

PERSONAL GOALS

  • One blog post a week, minimum
  • 5000 or writing words a week, minimum
  • 1st draft of my novel ready for critting by end of July
  • Regular practice on guitar
  • Regular speaking engagements
  • Continued increase in health and fitness
  • Returning to study
  • Run a half marathon

OTHER OBJECTIVES

  • Sale of non fiction piece to recognised market
  • Win Christian Short Story Comp (Athanatos)
  • Start a band

Hopefully this post will give me something to measure my progress against, and when I look back I will be able to tick each off with a great degree of satisfaction.