dal niente

Category: Uncategorized

Written, spoken, and unspoken

In the past, one of the things I never really did with my blogs is put much photographic content up. Maybe this was because, when I first started blogging, that this was all supposed to be about practicing me writing at a time when writing was in itself as a hobby to me.

My blogging habits have really changed over the last 30 years though– some of it has been due to changes in my personality, while others are more accurately linked to me “growing up” and having different things to talk about.  There are other secondary drivers, such as technology, free time limitations, and other hobbies… but I suppose all things change.


Now that I’m in Japan with [CM] on the first real vacation we’ve had in almost two years, I’m reminded of something that my friends and I used to say– it’s a bad habit to blog only when things in life are going poorly. Which is how we used to blog in the late 90s– blogging was a way to self-medicate from young adult life.


Nowadays, a lot of the angst is gone. I’m a married man now. I’m not about to be deported, I have a steady job, and secondary jobs teaching (which I’ve always wanted). Life is good. There are of course always ways that life can be better,  but I don’t whinge as much as I used to, and I’m a much less angry person than I used to be.



When I look back at it, the reason why I never uploaded much photo content was probably because of two reasons.


Firstly, at the height of my interest in photography, I was young adult dabbling 35mm film film in an era where scanners were expensive, and worst of all, slow. Digital cameras were starting to come out on phones, and I remember that my Sony Erisson K750 mobile phone (I think that’s what it was called) was way ahead of the competition… with a 2.0 MP camera.  I wrongly predicted that digital would never overtake traditional film cameras, and for a long time I was correct, given that the quality of digital cameras was really, simply, shit. So I just didn’t have many digital photos. I still have binders full of 35mm negatives at my parent’s place in Montreal though.

Secondly though, size limitations. Do you remember a time when blog sites like Xanga had 200 MB limitations on “multimedia files”? Even though photos back then were only a a hundred kilobytes at most at native digital shooting resolutions with my phone, a single scanned image was far greater, and conceptually, 200MB just seemed like this looming bugbear if you wandered off too far. So I never wanted to put myself in the position to have to pay more just to blog (even though I did sign up for Xanga Premium LIFE, at some point). To me, I felt that the words would be enough.

This is a stark contrast to today, when I’ve got hundred of gigabytes of storage in the cloud. Google and Nikon even give you unlimited storage of standard resolution (about 2megabyte) files.



I’m not saying that I’m converting this into a photoblog. But when I get back to Australia, it is an option to consider, if it doesn’t involve too much re-uploading.

Some of the pictures that we’ve picked up over this vacation are just worth sharing.


When I replay the events that took place in the judo about 2 weeks ago, I’m a bit less angry now, but I am still frustrated.

“If it were up to me, you wouldn’t have gotten that belt,” he said. This was Sensei-R, the instructor who had taught me all my basics when I first started doing judo.

I was taken aback. I think my training partner, who was an orange belt, was also a bit shocked, and there was a moment where he couldn’t decide if he was supposed to pretend that he hadn’t heard or if there was some other thing he should be doing at that very moment, somewhere else. But like me, we just stood there for a moment.

“I don’t disagree with you,” I said, or something like that. I had reverted to my customer service training, agreeing with the fact that Sensei-R felt that way, but in my head, not necessarily that I agreed about whether or not I should actually be wearing a brown belt. It’s hard to turn lawyering off, even at a judo club after work hours.

There were some other words exchanged, and then Sensei-R stalked off. To put this in context, this was because about an hour earlier, he was very vocally getting very upset with me about my lack of competition involvement.


I was graded to brown belt by Sensei-K a few months earlier, and the two instructors have very different views about how people should progress through the ranks, as you might guess. Sensei-K is the higher ranking judoka though, by a handful of dan grades.

People in the club tell me that it’s not up to Sensei-R whether or not I’m qualified– it wasn’t and couldn’t be his decision, since Sensei-K is the ranking coach. They tell me that if Sensei-R thinks I deserved to be tested, and thinks that I passed the test, then that should be good enough for anyone, and nobody has the right to disrespect that.

Despite this, I found myself extremely angry at Sensei-R. I held my tongue in the dojo, and it took me a good 2 days before I could really even think about the situation more. It wasn’t about whether or not I was good enough to be a brown belt or not– it’s that he chose to just pop up his disaprooval publicly rather than speaking to me personally in private.

I’ve always been very low key in the club. Not that I’ve done so purposely– but I’m not as young as the majority of the club members, given that it’s a univeristy run club. That means that my time contraints are pretty high– aside from what little time I can spend actually going to normal training days (which is quite irregular), I almost never go to the social events or competitions anymore. Between work (aside from lawyering 5 days a week, I often also teach on the sides for various university law faculties), personal commitments, and just being exhausted by the time I get to weekends, I’m simply just not that interested in competing anymore.

There are various other reasons why I just don’t feel interested in competing anymore, but that’s another post.


Now, Sensei-R saying what he said, he should know better. Simply.

Despite not being very active socially with the club, when I’m there, I work hard. I help out a lot with the lower belts, because I’m one of the safer partners that they can have. I’m told I’m very patient, have a good analytical eye, explain things well, and make people feel motivated. I’ve never had someone in the club complain about my attitude or behaviour, and I’ve always been a bit old fashioned about formally bowing and the honorifics.

WIth all this in mind, Sensei-R could only have said what he said beacuse he was specifically trying to hurtful, or because he’s an asshole.

Now that I’m a brown belt, I’ve been dragged into club politics which I simply didn’t know about previously. I just want to throw people. I don’t need to be a part of all this.



The colour progression of belts in judo is white, yellow, orange, green, blue, brown. After those “colored belts”, which are known as kyu grades, you get to black (and it’s various grades of black which are dan grades). Currently, I’ve got a brown belt.

I came from a history of impromptu martial arts clubs. In my early days of practicing Jeet Kune Do and kickboxing, there were no belts. Everyone just sort of knew the pecking order based on ability– every had their own goals.

Since coming into judo, I’ve never really cared much about the belts. When I was a white belt, at some point, Sensei-R paired me up with an orange belt and told me to go through certain techniques with him. I was later awarded a yellow belt. I didn’t even know I was being tested, so that’s probably an indication of how much I cared about it.


Every other time I’ve done a belt exam, it’s been because Sensei-R asked me if I was going to grade to the next colour or not. If he was asking, then I either agreed or disagreed. If I disagreed, I told him that it was on the basis that I didn’t have enough competition points, which were usually his requirement.

I received my orange and green belts with the full compliment of points. But by the time I was a green belt, my life outside of judo was getting more and more busy. I was job hunting, because my visitor visa status meant that if I didn’t get a job after university, I would eventually be from Australia (I wasn’t yet a permanent resident). [CM] was in her final years of med school, which were very stressful. We’d moved apartments a number of times and changed flatmates a number of times.

Since green belt, I just haven’t prioritised competition fighting. It was all I could do to show up for training to begin with. Sensei-R eventually graded me to a blue belt, with some gap in the points on the basis that overall I had the requisite skill and had done some grappling outside of my club. I don’t recall if he asked me to do it, or if I asked him if I could grade. but there I was.

While I was a blue belt, I didn’t get a single competition point. I attended a few as a spectator, but I just didn’t have the drive or interest to do it.

Between my green belt and my blue belt, I went through a number of important life events. I got my first jobs teaching at law schools part time– I’d wanted to be a teacher since I was in undergrad, but it was now only a decade later that the opportunity had come up. I was taking on management training courses to run our small law firm in preparation for my boss’ maternity leave. I got engaged, and CM and I got married. My dad was diagnosed with cancer. He survived.  Two of my grandparents passed away.

A hell of a lot happened since over the past couple of years. And now, in my mid thirties, I understand now the other side of that story– when I was in my teens, and just starting off in martial arts, I would always say to people that they should train more. Older friends would simply say “don’t have the time, sorry” and I’d say to them “so make time!”

Easier said than done it seems.

And this is why it’s such a huge achievement for people who actually do dedicate the time and effort into advancing through the martial arts when they’re past 30.

But that’s no longer me. I don’t have the time or the energy to dedicate myself to martial arts the way I once did. It’s a bit sad, but at the same time, it’s a decision I consciously make– because there are other ways that I continue to grow, which I value.

Martial arts still remain an integral part of my life– the life experiences I had throughout the years guide a lot of my problem solving techniques, and they give me confidence and substance in ways that I can’t get anywhere else. Even now, now that I don’t compete, I continue to derive great joy from continuing to learn (although at a slower pace).

I am not saying that I’m better than others who do spend more of their lifetimes on martial arts because I have other things going on. There’s a limited amount of time that we have on this planet, and we need to make decisions about how we spend our time and energy, that’s all.


But what does it mean then, for someone to judge that you’ve made the wrong decision? What does it mean then for someone to judge that you are not good enough?


December 2017

I saw a mention on Facebook of Xanga. I really do miss Xanga—it was a circle of blogs who I read on a regular basis, and I just came to know people, if only by their internet pseudonyms. Yes, I made the transition to WordPress eventually, and I did import all of my Xanga archives from back then, but I think it’s always been a bit different. It kind of put an interruption on my blogging.

I suppose it’s not fair to say that it was all Xanga’s fault that I mostly stopped blogging—I met [CM] around the time, and I guess I just started getting busy as our relationship got more serious. It’s now a bit under a decade later, and here I am, coming back to the blogging a bit, even if it’s just for a quick hit and run.




I don’t really consider myself old, but I do feel that sometimes, I find myself in positions that I’d normally think were occupied by “adults”.

Just a week ago, I sat down two of the paralegals at my law firm, and decided to give them a crash course in basic networking. The internet hardware sort of networking, not the hand shaking and baby kissing sort.

It was a bit surreal.

I found that I just took a lot of concepts for granted, because I grew up having to learn some basic coding. When I had a Commordore 64, I learned BASIC just because I wanted to be able to load up games to play. I made simple programs with the QuickBASIC years later, and I was fortunate enough to have a family friend, [Swongy], who took an interest in lending me a whole ton of books on programming… I never got all that far, because it was just a self-taught hobby, but I even went as far as learning some rudimentary C just so that I could program custom mods for Duke Nukem 3D.

Back then, I had to learn by books—computer books were always at least 2 or 3 inches thick back then, and weighed a good kilo. I remember in Montreal, there was even a computer bookshop in Philip Square—I can’t remember what it was called, but it was near Crazy Irving’s, which was one of the biggest shops at the time. It used to sell 3 ¼” diskettes with software, including relevant stuff at the time like Montreal area Bulletin Board System (BBS) dialup numbers.

So when I was talking to the paralegals about how to wire a router to a printer… they were transfixed. Well, I mean, sure, I’m technically sort of their boss, so the things that I was telling them, it’s pretty much their job to pretend that they’re interested. I don’t think it was that (this time) though. They just genuinely seemed curious—they were asking the “right questions” that showed they were engaging with the topic.

It turned out that I had to backtrack a bit. Forget about Local Area Networks for a moment… what’s the difference between a phone cable, and an ethernet cable? What’s the difference between a wireless modem, a wireless router? Why is it that we say that our phones get wireless internet, but then, our wireless router needs a phone jack?


It occurred to me as I was basically giving them an explanation of things that a lot of it has to do with how internet and technology companies in Australia market things, and how in the IT world, usage of English is neither great nor consistent.  For example—what do you understand when I say wireless modem?

Do you mean a modem that gets it’s WAN connection by some sort of 4G or 3G connection? Or do you actually mean a mode/router or a router, that casts an internet connection for LAN use, in the form of WiFi? It’s really not obvious from just reading the boxes or brochures of technology.


The fact that millennials “grew up with Facebook” gives them an interesting sort of technology problem—they are at their heart, end users, who are adept and accustomed to adapting end user experiences. Give them a bit of motivation and some time, and they will practice their way through most of the functionality of simple, contained apps with confidence. But they’re often pretty limited in terms of the technical stuff beyond being asked to enter a username and password, and click “save”.

Which makes it all the more a stark contrast to the generation older than me, that of my parents and grand parents. At least in my family, these generations have strange respect for technology, in that sometimes they fear it as the thing that will replace their jobs. They still don’t quite distinguish fake ads and scams from legitimate system messages. They can sometimes get phished by con artists asking for credit card details. But on the other hand, they understand wires—the analogy to them is that if some sort of information is going to move, it’s going to be by a wire, and wireless is truly a wire without wires.  So when I explained to my mom the chain of internet from the wall, to the modem, to the router, to the VOIP ATA, to the phone, she understood it, and was able to troubleshoot it. Different sized cables? No problem for someone who grew up in an era televisions and stereo systems characterised by RCA jacks, coaxial cables, y-fork connections for television rabbit ear antennae, and more recently, the jump from fat headphone jacks to 3.5mm.

In many ways, video gaming drove my self-education in terms of a lot of technology. I had to learn how to set up dial-up connections so that I could do early 90s multiplayer games. I needed to set up a wireless bridge in my home so that I could play games in the basement. I needed to figure out a healthy amount of suspicion so that I could go to the right peer-to-peer sites to download games, I learned to use various Linux builds so that I could put older computer systems to use in the family.

I’m nowhere near as tech proficient as people who do this kind of thing for a living… but I appreciate that technology is a tool, and like any tool, it is meant to make our lives easier. Like all tooks, there is also a certain amount of craftsmanship involved in its usage—craftsmanship being, in my book, a kung fu type continual development that can be a way to develop discipline and a sense of community.

I say discipline because, to this day, I think in terms of algorithms—I think in flowcharts (I used to have a stack of flowchart drafting paper when I was a kid, which one of my uncles or aunt’s gave me from their time working at IBM). My problem solving is like troubleshooting code—I isolate variables, test inputs against results, and try and figure out bugs. Rinse and repeat.

It’s really actually quite similar to the way one learns techniques and applies them in martial arts.




The latest thing that I’ve been getting excited about is upgrading our small office network… we’ve recently bought a much better router, which has failover and load balancing capabilities (multi-WAN support) which we’re using to get around the horrid internet service in Sydney CBD. We’ve also recently started working on a NAS/server setup (apologies to those of you who actually know these things, as I’m probably not using the terms properly).  Hence why I was bringing the paralegals up to speed on how some of the connectivity works, so that they can help me integrate the network plans.




On a personal level—CM and I bought ourselves a Nikon DSLR for ourselves for Christmas. This will be the first time since Korea about a decade that I own a digital camera. And, although it’s digital now and not film, it will be the first time since college that I use an SLR.

I still have binders full of negatives from when I used to do work in darkrooms in black and white film. A few youtube videos later, and I’m starting to wrap my head around aperature priority and shutter priority shooting. It’s a completely different way of conceptualising the controls compared to my old manual Nikon F50.

And now, rather than thinking about binders full of strips of negatives, I’m thinking about a home NAS—because where else would you dump all those photos?




Times change… some things stay the same foundationally, just enough so that if you’re paying attention, you can see the themes, the inspiration of the parents in the children, the philosophies before they diverged– and this change is what makes the nostalgia bittersweet and sometimes wonderful.

Years go by

I found out a few weeks ago by a former Xangan, [VisualNoise], that he’s getting married.

Time flies!

Congratulations are in order I think.



Every now and then, I think: “I never would have imagined when I was younger that…X”


Some of the things that go in X are happy things. Things that I didn’t think I’d achieve, or, directions I didn’t think I’d go in. Some things are sad things.


It’s all experience I suppose!




I recently received a brown belt in judo from one of my instructors. There’s been some controversy around this I suppose, and it wears down on me a little bit. There are basically two opinions about this… one of my instructors, [K-Sensei], the one who conducted my exam, wanted me to do the exam. This is despite that I made it pretty clear that I don’t have much formal competition experience in Australia to count towards my qualifications. Normally, the most common system is to be graded once you have a certain amount of wins in your weight class.

I’d largely resigned myself to not getting past a blue belt, because frankly, I don’t do competitions anymore. I can’t say exactly when I stopped, but it was probably when I suffered my last significant injury, which was a major tear to my adductor longus. That left me unable to walk for a number of weeks, unable to run for months, and took me probably the better part of a year before I stopped feeling the twinge in my leg at certain angles.

After that… I guess I just stopped wondering if it was all worth it. It was a major turning point for me, who has been doing martial arts since I was in my teens.

Even now, I still train, and I daresay that I train with some pretty good intensity. But I just don’t feel like competing. I don’t know if it’s because I’m scared, but I do know that one general thought is that I don’t think, in my circumstances, that it’s worth it anymore for me to compete. Wanting it that much leads to injuries that set me back in other areas of life.

And so ever since I tore that leg muscle, even after my recovery, I haven’t done any official external tournaments in Australia. I’ve done a few unofficial ones here and there, and I still do the in-house randori to a sometimes competition level of intensity, but on the official record, I

I’ve had a few other students reassure me that under the rules, my promotion after completing the exam, points or not, is normal, because under the current rules there are various interpretations that say that you basically don’t need official external competitions to qualify.

On the other hand, one other instructor is not very pleased with the fact that I don’t have sufficient points. It makes me uncomfortable that there’s divided opinions about my qualifications to have obtained this belt.

If I were to count the reasons why it’s probably appropriate, it’s because the instructor who examined me knows his judo. He’s a high ranking member in the international community, so if he pushes for me to do it, who am I to refused?

To be honest, I never really asked to be graded… it was that instructor, who holds the highest dan grading in the school, who basically told me that I had to before the end of the year.

My fellow practitioners so far have been quite supportive of me, but it is weighing on me that the instructor who seems to disapprove is not happy. I care about what he thinks, because he spent a fair amount of time teaching me–  he accounts for probably almost half of the way my judo grappling style has come into being.


Life as an adult

I’m not sure where it happened exactly, but for some reason I’m now in a category of people called “adults”.

I know that when I was younger, so much of my time was spent trying to get adults to take me seriously– and now, I hang around paralegals or I teach law students on a daily basis who are more than a decade younger than me. I do judo with people who are a little over half my age.


I don’t know when the transition just happened– it really kind of snuck up on me, I think over the past two years.


I don’t know if everyone gets this feeling at some point. I wouldn’t say it’s a bad one– it’s just different, and it takes getting used to. Sort of like how I don’t ride a bicycle so much anymore– I mean, I still do, maybe once every couple of weeks as an alternative to the train. But it’s not that daily 20km trek because I wanted to save money. Now, I commute on public transit. When [CM] goes to work, she drives, or sometimes I drive her.

Yes, I drive now. I’ve driven for a bit over two years now.


When I was in Canada a few months back, it was because I went to visit my dad, who I found out, he had cancer. Treatments have been good, and it looks like the got it all– which is a relief. But I wonder and worry sometimes if he’s bored in retirement, if him and mom are getting along well enough… all that sort of stuff. Adult worries.

Maybe that’s been the thing that set this whole “adult” thought in my head. My grandfather passed away less than a year ago. The last time I saw him was when I was in Canada for my wedding.

I miss having grandparents. I keep telling myself that I’ll write down more about them… but then nothing comes to mind. I don’t know what to write about, because nothing comes up.

My dad says he misses his parents a lot.

And so I worry about things back in Canada.


It’s not that I want to go back– I’ve got a  life here now in Australia with CM.  It’s just… adult concerns I guess. These things I think about now that I’m an adult.

Time dilation

My dad’s begin radiotherapy for the cancer in his neck. So far, it sounds like he’s impressed—the process has been more or less painless, and the biggest side effect so far has been that he gets a really dry mouth all the time.


He did explain that, at first, he was having some pretty claustrophobic reactions to having to wear the custom molded face and chest plate. Undrstandably, probably—if I had something form fitted out of heavy radio-proof lead that fit flush with my front, to the point where I couldn’t even open my jaw, I’d probably be pretty fucking scared too.

I’m relieved that he feels better about things.

He did mention in a message that chances are, they’ll completely eradicate it—but that there is always that likelihood that it pops up again in a few years and they’ll have to fight something similar again. I don’t know what I think about that—but I guess we’ll deal with this first.



I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be around people lately.


My grandfather passed away. That was pretty tough for me. The last time I saw him was when [CM] and I were in Montreal for our wedding there. And then the next thing I know–  he was gone.

I wonder sometimes why my parents don’t speak about their grandparents very much. Actually, I don’t know anything about my grandparents. They don’t even really tell me much about their own parents—by the time there was anything to say, it was only in remembrance really.


I’ve been pretty alone lately. This is mostly because CM is up working on her mandatory rural hospital placement—she’s completeld 1 month out of 3 months service so far. We just have to tough it out for a little while longer.

I’ve been alone lately, but I wouldn’t say that I’m feeling ultra lonely—not most of the time anyway. But maybe I’ve always been a bit of a loner, and maybe that’s how I got started blogging in the first place?


I’ve just been thinking about people, and the relationships they have with other people. And memories. And connections. And those sorts of things.

I’ve spoken to my dad in recorded whatsapp messages more in the past month than I have spoken to him probably in the last two years, barring the times when I was actually in front of him on vacation. It’s been strange, but at the same time, it just feel right and familiar in other ways. It’s all just strange.


I know I’m rambling but it’s just that mortality has been a lot on my mind since I started this whole Australian adventure. Both of my grandparents have since passed away with cancer. One of my mom’s siblings passed away from cancer. My dad was recently diagnosed. Hell, even I was told a couple of years ago that I had a growth (in my hip bone, but it seems benign).


When my dad told me the other day that my grandparents’ house had officially been sold—I paused for a moment. I spent so much of my time growing up there. I don’t know if my dad knew when he left me that voice message, but he said something along the lines of “We’ve handed over the keys already, we can’t go back there anymore.” A part of me wanted to go back there I guess. Even if it was just empty rooms, I can even now just picture it all.

My sister and I used to link up elastic bands on end and put a knot at the end of the ensuing chord, then we’d throw one end through the stair rails and swing around pretending to be Spider-Man—back in a day when my uncle used to collect the comics (way before the movies came out). We used to build forts out of the sofa cushions, and hide under the kitchen and dining room tables.

Even if the rooms were empty and devoid of furniture, I could still point out the part of the ceiling near the stairwell where I used to rub off the plaster, because I somehow thought that that was fun. I would probably even remember which steps creaked, and which ones you stepped over so that you didn’t make a sound when playing hide and seek.



I keep forgetting that it’s been a decade since I left for Korea now. Facebook, of all ‘people’, is the source of the reminders. I remember how a decade ago, drama was thick and active, and it happened over the course of hours and days. Nowadays? Weeks go by and I don’t notice all the time.

Maybe it’s because of work. It seems like some silly cliché that lawyers work too much, and I seem to remember thinking at some point that that would never be me. But here I am—putting in 40 hour weeks at the firm, and teaching for 3 universities part time on the side. And since CM’s been one? I’ve somehow managed to fit in about 10 hours of judo into the last week alone.


Maybe it’s because I’m alone at home most days after work—I’m not unhappy, I don’t feel like my life is out of control. But I wish I could stop time from getting away from me.


Getting here to Lithgow was a real pain in the ass. It’s really days like this where you understand why people don’t want to use public transportation, and just go out and buy a car and drive it around as a single occupant.

I’m sitting in a public library, waiting for [CM] to finish work. Even when I worked in a public library as a kid, I always wondered why these places have to have such high ceilings—what’s the point? They never stack the books that high anyway. They could have put a second floor in here.

When I came out of the public restroom, I noticed a wall full of information pamphlets. There’s always all sorts of pamphlets wherever you go—banks are full of product pamphlets and “free advice”. Libraries are a lot like that too I guess, except they generally have more community oriented things.

Huh. I had a browse. Cancer Council: Understanding Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.

Yep, that’s the one.




On May 4th, 2017, Dad sent me an email from Canada in the middle of the night.

Apparently he has cancer.


It’s a bump on his neck. It’s probably a “non-hodgkin lymphoma”. I’m told that, as far as cancers go, this is the kind that you want. It’s a “good cancer to have”, inasmuch as that seems like an oxymoron. They’re quite common, and, assuming that’s what Dad has, apparently not too bad to treat.

Yeah, to be honest, I don’t know what “not too bad to treat even means.” But maybe this pamphlet, which really, is more of a booklet, can help with that.




I haven’t really dealt with the fact that Dad has cancer yet. The first day, when I found out, my brain went into autopilot. I was 75% of the way to work when my wife, who replied to my messages, told me she was coming home to see me. She told me to go home. I don’t know what I was thinking, but I almost just went to work as if nothing had happened.

I almost cried on the train suddenly. Didn’t know what I was thinking.

When I got home, it was just the two cats and I until CM got home. I crawled back into bed, still mostly in my outside clothes, and wept. One of our cats, who is seldom as affectionate to me as she is to CM, came up to me and was stepping all over me, which is her way of showing concern I guess.


I’m better now.  There are more tough times ahead I imagine.

But first, I guess I have to read this booklet.

April Grab Bag

International immigration systems are stupid.

I’m not even talking about the American travel bans which I keep hearing about from Australia.

[CM] and I recently found out about this “6 month rule” thing that many countries have on passports. Basically, CM and I are landlocked in Australia because, although we have valid passports, the countries that we are supposed to be flying to (we’ve missed the first 5 days of our planned overseas annual leave in Malaysia and Hong Kong) won’t accept you unless you have a passport which is valid for at least 6 months past the last date of your travel.

Normally, when you book through a travel agent, apparently the travel agents tell you this. But since we booked directly on the Malaysian airlines website, and we didn’t know about such a rule, we only actually found out at the airport at the baggage claim. Basically, sorry, you can’t get on this flight.

Um… what?

The details of that don’t matter too much at this point. It’s very upsetting generally. That’s an understatement. You only get so much vacation in a given year, and to really work your way through difficult jobs up until the point of physically being in an airport and then refused… it’s frankly heartbreaking. It’s terrible for mental health. It makes one think that you’ve endured all this time just for some reward which you don’t even get.


Malaysian Airlines, throughout this ordeal, has been terrible, every step of the way.


On separate accounts, dealing with the Canadian embassy, as well as the Malaysian and Chinese embassy (for the issues above, as well as for other issues) has proven to me that these places are all stupid. The level of service you get, compared to the amount of useless red tape and administration, is ridiculous.



I’m in a Ford dealership right now, just waiting on our car to get serviced. Not exactly how I planned on spending a day of my vacation.  But I guess it’s a good use of time to catch up on “life-administration” that I don’t normally get.

Keep your hands up

There was a fight on my train home. I was minding my own business in the crowded lower compartment of the train– I had foot on the floor and on the stairs, with a huge cardboard box on my knee (a worm farm that had finally been delivered to my office00 this is another story).

Out of nowhere, I hear some big yelling from the standing area (up the small stairs from me).

From what I gather, an local Australian lady is telling off some guy who apparently was muttering racist things against some Chinese passengers.

I was thinking to myself, well, at least my station is next.

Train stops, and they’re still arguing. In fact, from what I can see, the situation has escalated to an all out yelling match, with lots of swearing, a lot of finger jabbing,a nd now some pretty serious pushing and shoving.

Anti-racism Australian gets off the train and is still yelling at him. She basically shames the guy to get off the train —  and the people in the standing compartment start clapping when he does. Cause it’s always a great idea to provoke a racist, right.


So the racist jumps back into the train, does this epic flying tackle into the posts, and now the people in the standing compartment are scared.

Racist guy gets back off the platform to confront lady. The shouting match countines, this time on the platform. It’s my stop, so I and others get off.


So I’m watching this all going down, never more than about 5 meters from the people who are shouting the most. Somehow, the woman is going toe to toe with the guy. She is literally a foot away from the guy, and it’s just this ring of people, nervous and scared, watching from a safe distance– but it is racist guy (and his Aboriginal girlfriend) basically having a schoolyard shouting match at point blank range.


Next thing you know, someone tries to hit someone, anti-racism lady takes a big shave and almost backs up into the train wall. An indian guy gets involved and starts getting beaten on, and I’m there holding my worm farm and like FUCK this is soooo annoyyyyyyyyinggggggg someone will get hurt.


So I stepped in and ended it with a throw. (O soto gari , in case you were wondering which one– turns out that throwing someone whose attention is focused on someone else is really easy). I remember that this is concrete, and so I make a note of not smashing his head on the ground and let him down ‘gently’.

So tedious. I just wanted to have dinner and here are these idiots getting into eachothers’ faces…

Next thing I know, some of the crow is suddenly full of righteous anti-racism heroes, and they’re all coming in and grabbing and maybe even hitting at the racist guy (who is now on his back). So now I’m kneeling over the guy, telling people to back off, and asking the racist guy “are you ok? Are you ok?” beacuse people are actually hitting him while he’s down. 


So it’s a bit fucking mess.


After things calm down a bit (not much) and the racist guy is back on his feet, he’s trying to leave the station by the stairs and the anti-racism Australian lady STILL wants to detain this guy, so she’s pulling him down the stairs from behind. I step in again and put my arm in her way saying “just let it go, it’s not worth it! Someone’s going to get hurt, it’s not worth it!”


… and that’s when an closed umbrella whizzes around, and if it weren’t for the fact that i had my arm up, it would have nailed me in the head. At this point I’m really yelling “just let it go!” and am pretty annoyed with everyone.


She does let it go. And at this point, oh, where were you official train employee? Comes in with his walkie talkie and starts ordering people down. I think he was probably there the whole time, but just did not get involved until it was safe. Fair enough, I supose.

I left before police showed up since there were already like 100 witnesses with mobile phone cameras, but maybe if we’re lucky someone will upload a youtube video of me not only throwing someone but then trying to keep a mob from stomping him in revenge.


It has been a long week and it occurs to me that maybe I’m not normal. I wasn’t scared in the situation, just very annoyed that I had to be delayed. I was more concerned about where I could put down my worm farm, and if someone would take it. I even thought to myself… hmm… if I get involved, I probably don’t want to be wearing my bag, but at the same time, where will I put it down?



I understand what the lady was doing. She did a good thing. She was standing up for some asians on the train I think who were just being insulted. I don’t mean to simply call her anti-racism lady out of some disrespect– she’s got guts, and I was really impressed that she not once, not twice, but more times than I could count, actually went toe to toe with him. Nobody should give in to bullies.

But it’s not a question of being scared or not. That is a dangerous situation. You cannot go up to someone’s face and trade insults at point blank and not protect yourself– it literally only takes one badly received punch, elbow, or headbutt to cause serious injury or death.


Meanwhile, don’t you feel sorry for the racist guy? And what’s the point of detaining him until the police arrive? So him and his idegenous girlfriend can go to jail for a couple of nights? Have something else on their record? Is public shaming or jail time really going to teach this guy a lesson, or reinforce his views even further? Maybe I’m thinking too much like a criminal law teacher and a lawyer– but isn’t this “us versus bad people” dichotomy too convenient?

There is so much anger out there– what struck me the most is how you have this cowardly crowd who is hiding back and letting one lady do all the talking– and the best they can do is clap, or try to kick a man when he’s down. I mean… seriously??


To be fair, there were a handfull of people who were just trying to stop the fighting with me. Good work.


But just… sigh. That whole situation was just bullshit– people were stupid, people could have gotten seriously hurt. There’s a time for words, and there’s a time for fighting– and there is also a time for just walking away and spending your energy some other way.