Getting Older

Today I turn 28, getting older is strange. I hate it because I feel like I should and my hair is falling out, but I love it because I am so much more productive with my time, achieving more and more, and so on.

27 to 28 was a good time, in that 12 month period I

  • Took up meditation
  • Completed the Melburn Roobaix without a concussion (unlike the year before with a concussion and not finishing it)
  • Made a ton of new friends
  • Started working out regularly
  • Travelled through Europe for six weeks, I got to see Belgium, France, Hungary, Romania, Netherlands, Norway
  • Met a load of distant family in Norway
  • Ate Reindeer and Moose
  • Rode 100km 31 hours after returning from Europe, after six weeks off the bike and still jetlagged
  • Went to NZ for a holiday, awesome place
  • Went to Uni, almost got a HD
  • Moved to Taiwan
  • Started seriously learning Mandarin Chinese

It’s going to be pretty damn hard to top this.

Herniated Disk Recovery

I have to say, I’ve had a great deal of fortune recovering from this herniated disk.

It’s been 15 days since it happened and the pain is basically gone, and I only feel a slight twinge of pain if I move in a certain direction.

Unfortunately, and on doctors orders, I wont be able to return to back squats and deadlifts any time soon, it’ll be at least three months, possibly even more.

That said, about two weeks before it happened I was in the and talking with the owner, Dave. He recently had a back injury and one that required surgery and said that if you ever get an injury, you just have to train around it, and whatever you do, don’t quit — solid advice.

So about a week into my injury I sent an email asking what to do, and have since been in for some training, so that I can continue to work out whilst not putting any pressure on the effected area.

It’s a three day program which focuses on chest, legs, and back respectively, and so far it’s been wonderful

Day 1 – Chest

  • pullups/chins 25 (:15-:30 rest on these, no more)
  • bench 5, 5, 8
  • DB seated incline press 4×6
  • pushups 5 x 5
  • direct core work – at least two exercises
  • 25 pullups/chinups (:15-:30 rest on these, no more)

Day 2 – Legs

  • leg curl 4×6-8 1:00 rest
  • leg ext 4×6-8 1:00 rest
  • hip ext (use GHR or machine downstairs) 4×10
  • donkey kicks with bands 4x10l/r

Day 3 – Back

  • pullups/chins 25 (:15-:30 rest on these, no more)
  • batwings 4×6
  • lat pulldowns 4×6
  • one arm rows 4x6l/r
  • straight arm pulldowns 4×6-8
  • direct core work 1-2 exercises
  • pullups/chins 25 (:15-:30 rest on these, no more)

All in all it’s going really well, my legs are still sore several days later, I guess two weeks off and then going back into isolation exercises will do that.

Herniated Disk Pain

There should be some kind of universal law that states that when you’re doing something to better yourself, you should not be able to get an injury.

I went to the gym yesterday, on my lunch break, as is the norm, and was doing some deadlifts. I went for 120kg (264lbs), which is my current maximum deadlift, and one I had done just last week. However something went wrong, I felt, and swear I heard, something in my back go pop, lower left hand side. The pain was truly incredible, I’m not sure if I’ve felt something so awful in my life.

So I somehow packed the weights up and hobbled home, and then planned out seeking treatment, which, in another country where English isn’t the first language, and my Mandarin has some ways to go, was going to be fun.

It sure took a while to get changed and leave the house.

Even as a foreigner, the health system in Taiwan is pretty great, the difference is that without an ARC(Alien Resident Card) you have to pay as you go. It’s efficient, probably more so than back in Australia — though that is not a big challenge — and comparable in cost. In under an hour I had filled out the paperwork, seen a doctor, paid, had an X-ray, collected pain relief, and was on my way.

A fairly positive experience overall, but I have to go back tonight at 7pm to get the results of the X-ray, fingers crossed!

Old Habits Die Hard

So it’s about 2300, and I have just explained to someone that I’m having a hot chocolate before bed, and it dawned on me that this is something I have always done, every since I was a little boy.

I daresay it began with Milo as a wee lad, courtesy of mother and grandmother, and it’s carried through to today, though these days it’s sugar free stevia sweetened hot chocolate.

It also dawned on me that this is likely something I will continue to do forever.

Long live hot chocolate.

I Need More Time

It wasn’t until I really pushed myself that I realized I need more hours in the day. Current weekdays look a little like this

0700 – wake up and start work
1100 – Go to the gym and eat lunch
1230 – get back home and back to work
1630 – finish work and shower
1700 – do a little Mandarin practice, maybe have a nap
1630 – start walking to mandarin class
1900 – mandarin class for two hours
2130 – arrive home from mandarin class, commence relaxing
2200 – start the go to bed process.

Of course the times are subject to change and I’m not often in bed at 2200, the same is said for what time I wake up, it’s anywhere from 0600 – 0700, my body clock likes to wake me up early.

I want to start writing some code again, but I’m not sure where to fit it in. Sure there’s weekends, but I like to be outside on the weekends, as I spend most of the week inside.

This part is where I queue the

Oh, but you don’t even have children!

from parents. That’s true, I don’t, thank god!

I’m Moving to Taiwan

Story time!

Many years ago, circa 2006 I estimate, I had the great idea of moving to the UK. The idea was put into my head by Mum, as she had recounted how my Uncle Ken had saved to move there when he was 19. I liked the idea of being somewhere different, and it would be pretty easy for me to get an Ancestry Visa as Granddad is Scottish.

Like most things in my life to that point, I never went through with it.

Aside from being terrible with money and not earning enough to save whilst still being financially unsound, I was living with friends, in a long term relationship, and generally things were alright. It was even a time when I used to say “yeah, I’m easy, I’ll just cruise through life” and had no career motivation — oh my how things have changed.

Sometime in 2008 I committed to travelling to South East Asia with a friend, for three weeks. I was still terrible with money, my job was alright, and I was still in the same relationship as the prior events.

It was fantastic, what an eye opener for a country-bred, ignorant, white male, who was at that time unable to use chopsticks. I still remember sitting outside a hawker center in Singapore, on Geylang Rd in Kallang, fumbling with chopsticks. Everyone, myself included, was laughing at me.

One of the countries we spent some time in during the whirlwind tour was Hong Kong. Hong Kong was awesome. It was the busiest place I’d ever been to, the food was off the charts and available everywhere, and at any time, and it’s culturally fascinating in so many ways, bamboo scaffolding is of particular note.

So at some point after that my plan was then to move to Hong Kong. It was a loose plan at best. Sometime after that my long term relationship came to a grinding halt, I moved out by myself, had to furnish an apartment, and generally had no money.

And though things weren’t great they were still alright. It was a good opportunity for me to actually move to Hong Kong, I’d heard that three month Visas were a piece of cake to get for Australian citizens, just do a border run, no worries! An employment strategy was to get a TESOL qualification and teach English, but I never wound up doing that.

I got into a fair bit of debt that year, 2011 it would have been, so that was stopping me from doing basically anything I wanted to.

Over the course of 2011 though, things started looking up. I got a new job, paid off debts, and eventually moved back into an apartment with a very good friend of mine. And 2012 just saw things go up and up, I lost weight, got into decent shape, fell in love with cycling, and started to save money for the first time in I don’t know how long.

Then I got a new job around the middle of the year, working remotely for a US company. I asked if they’d mind if I moved to Hong Kong, and the answer was “no problem” — I had it made.

In early 2013 my friend and I went our separate ways in terms of living arrangements, he was to move in with his girlfriend, I said no worries at all, I can work from wherever so do what you need to do, and I’ll do what I need to.

My plan was to move back to Bendigo on a short term basis, to get belongings into storage, and then to go to Hong Kong. Seemed like it’d be easy enough, but of course, there was a hitch.

I found that if I wanted to move there I would need to have a degree. I’d never needed, nor wanted, a degree, so this was quite the roadblock.

After consultation with a couple mates, Mum, and some people I consider mentors, the decision was clear — go to university now while you’re 27, there’s never going to be a better time. Research lead me to believe that the correct, most constructive, easiest path, was to study project management.

Therefore I applied to Charles Sturt Uni, not knowing what to expect, other than it being hard. Applying to uni is quite simply fucking awful. The amount of work that’s required is phenomenal, it took me six weeks to get everything in order.

In the time where I was waiting for them to say yea or nay, I got drunk one night and convinced myself they’d say no, and booked flights to Europe. Mostly for a work conference and to meet some guys I work with, but also because I’d never been, and the price was right, oh so very right. $1650 return, Melbourne to Amsterdam, can’t go wrong.

Then of course CSU got back to me and said “sure mate, we’d love to have you here” so I enrolled in one subject because the idea of study and travel sucks.

Two weeks ago, almost to the day, I started. The first thing I learnt is that I really don’t like project management. I persevered for eight days, with the 8th day being Monday 22nd July (six days ago), before realizing that it just wasn’t for me. The only topic that’s consistently held my attention for the last ten years is programming, I’m just not awesome at it.

So there I was, enrolled in a course I loathed so much that it caused me great anxiety, living in Bendigo, and not sure of what to do.

After talking to a friend on the fateful Monday I knew that I had to withdraw from study. It was a huge kick in the guts because I wanted nothing more than to see the world, the degree was somewhat of a key, and the idea of having a degree is nice as well.

Then I realized that hey, you know what, I should just travel anyway. I have a great job that allows me to and supportive managers, one of which does just that, globetrots.

I made a short list of possible countries I could go to that had working holidaymaker agreements with Australia, and that I was interested in. Taiwan, Norway, and Malta being on the shortlist.

I chose Taiwan. The reason is because I felt like it.

I’m finally at a point where financially, and professionally, I can do this, and it will work. Taiwan will give me a great opportunity to learn Mandarin Chinese (I did try to learn some time ago), it looks like a great place to ride bikes, the food will be amazing, and it’s pretty warm all the time.

I leave on March 1st 2014, at 1:25am, and I’m taking my bike with me.

On Tony Sly’s Death

Anyone who knows me, knows that I love Punk Rock. It’s certainly no secret.

A Little History

I remember, being a teenager, listening to Metallica, yeah, not punk, I know, but it was the beginning.

From there, it was bands like Soulfly, and Pantera, but eventually, it moved over to Punk. even with a two or three year hiatus to electronic dance.

Unfortunately, I missed the golden eras of a lot of bands that I now love, respect, and greatly appreciate. Even the Gimmes, a band that are strictly covers, but a band that helped me realize what I needed to do in a bad situation.

No Use for a Name – Also known as NUFAN

I got into these guys really, really, really late. Given I was already listening to bands like NOFX and Lagwagon, it’s absurd it didn’t happen earlier. I loved their work, particularly the middle of their career so far.

And as with most bands I like, I do some research, try and learn who is in it, so I did that, but I never looked deep enough.

The Death of Tony Sly

On 31st July, 2012, Tony Sly died, aged 41, leaving behind a wife and two children. This is when I started to look deeper into the ‘who’ of Tony Sly. Fat Wreck wrote in memoriam of Tony,

It is with great sorrow that we must say goodbye to Tony Sly of No Use For A Name. We received a call earlier today of his passing, and are devastated. We have lost an incredible talent, friend, and father – one of the true greats. Fat Mike had this to say: “One of my dearest friends and favorite song writers has gone way too soon. Tony, you will be greatly missed.”

A shame, on so many fronts. For his family, his friends, and his fans.

I tried to find out why he died, but there wasn’t much information on the internet at the time. After some time I wanted to know why, so I set out to find out.

The Lead Up

Tony Sly had been working on his solo career for a couple of years, releasing two albums, 12 Song Program, and Sad Bear. It proably goes without saying that the latter was a very sad record. In particular, there was one song that really got me thinking, Homecoming.

I’m not sure why, but it struck a chord with me. The whole album is sad, but this song in particular, wow. It feels weird, but after looking into it, it feels obvious that it was about to happen.

Then there was also another band he was in, Scorpios. They’re great, but check out the album cover, he looks… not so great I’m afraid.

Scorpios self titled album cover

The End

So, as mentioned, I was looking for information and answers. From what I can find on the internet, I can reasonably deduce a few things

  • He was in chronic back pain from a herniated disk
  • Loads of medication to deal with the pain
  • As per the article above, Fat Mike mentions Xanax, which would suggest a minimum of sleeping probles, and a probable anxiety and/or depression problem
  • Possibly digestive problems: he’d recently had an operation on his stomach, which could have easily compounded other issues

The Final Show

Tony Sly played an acoustic show with Joey Cape a few days before his death. Very, very fortunately, a fan, who drove three hours to see it, managed to record it. Tony even dedicated a song to him and his wife’s anniversary. Here’s the playlist for the show.

However, the final song was Linoleum. It’s almost a little surreal that two best friends, and massive shapers of the punk scene, were to perform an amazing, almost eerie cover, of a song by a band that had the same influence. Here it is, and in any case I hope you enjoy it, because it’s amazing.

He was a great singer, and an amazing songwriter.

I am sad that it happened, of course, even a little upset. It’s really quite sad, and it’s weird to be effected by the detah of someone you’ve never met or never known, but here we are. It really fucked up Fat Mike, Joey Cape, and NUFAN, his family, friends, but also, so many fans. One guy even said he met Tony at a show, thanked him for his music, that it got him through a hard time. So Tony gave him a hug and cried on his shoulder. It must be amazing, but maybe even a burden, to know you helped so many people in such a way. It’s still amazing, no less.

I can’t even imagine it.