Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Stump Jump

Our new favorite wine! Irony never tasted so good! :)

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Carving Out the Potential

I had a lot of time last week to think. When I think, I putter. Here's what I decided:

I think we often get so caught up in seeing things for what they are that we fail to see what they could be.

We're blinded so much by what we perceive that we fail to recognize the full potential of the thing.

If we can't get past that first obstacle, we can't form a vision of the possibilities or start clearing away the rubble to see what's under the surface.

If we can overcome that obstacle, we start ourselves down a path of enlightenment and potential. That vision becomes our obsession.

As we proceed, we may lose sight of that vision. Things aren't looking right and don't seem to be going the way we'd hoped or expected. We begin to think we've made a mistake or that we've been overly ambitious with what we've got. We must constantly redefine our expectations.

If we persist, we begin to see that the vision was never really lost. Instead, we come to recognize that there are other forces at play in shaping it.

It's in this realization that we recognize the true potential. By letting go of our preconceived notions and allowing things to progress as they're meant to, without force, we begin to see it take on a beauty of its own.

As we relax, things take shape. Our vision changes slightly and what it has become begins to exceed our expectations. Our vision becomes reality.

It would be easy to stop at this point but that's when the really hard work begins.

From here on out, the approach we take should be subtle but persistent. We need to smooth out the rough edges and take away the surface scars of the previous approach. Only through this effort does the work take on a new luster.

Gradually, as we polish away the debris left by such a radical transformation, the inner beauty of the thing is revealed to us. We're proud. We have achieved what we set out to achieve. We may choose to hide it away for ourselves, or we may put it on display for all the world to see. We sit back and admire our hard work.

But we're still not finished. Over time, dust collects on our effort, taking back the luster we have bestowed upon it. Everyday pressures may form small cracks or chips in the surface.

All of this happens for one reason: to remind us that we must take nothing for granted. Only with constant care and involvement will our hard work remain a thing of beauty.

We must treasure what we have created, else we lose it.

The beauty of life must be constantly rediscovered else we are blind to it.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


H.G. Wells said "The uglier a man's legs are, the better he plays golf". I think I'm going to like this game.

Matt (cool picture on the right, check out that club!) and I played 9 holes Sunday morning at Victoria Golf Complex near the Brisbane CBD. What a great way to spoil a nice walk on a Sunday morning!

Golfing in Australia is great. From the kangaroos on the greens to the colourful lorakeets in the tropical trees, the fairways lined with Palms and the perfect sky, you really do get the feeling of being in a tropical paradise.

Of course, one should recall a few minor points about golf etiquette here:
1) rake the sandtrap for deadly snakes BEFORE you go in after your ball. This may prevent death or at least wetting thyself.
2) if your ball goes in the deep rough, a python has it. If the python doesn't have it, the python was killed by something worse than a python. Just take a drop.
3) aggressive spiders are attracted to shiny metal club shafts.
4) beware of man-eating crocodiles in the water traps.

and of course...
5) if your mate drops unconscious from heat stroke, notify the course attendant so the other parties will allow the doctor (a few holes back) to play through. Score a 2 putt on his card for the hole +1 for the inconvenience. Play on.

Is he kidding? Is he exaggerating for comedic effect? Are there really crocodiles on the course? You'll just have to come find out for yourselves.

On a personal note, I can honestly say that I'm as good a golfer now as I was before the accident... You can read into that however you want!

Walking the hilly course was a good test for me. I used a push cart for the clubs and by the 9th green I was only feeling a small limp coming on. The uneven terrain would have been a real killer about 6 weeks ago so it was a nice feeling.

As MJ told me a while back, golfing is a great way to test the full range of the leg. He uses it to judge his new fit when he has a major adjustment made or gets a new piece of hardware. I figured I'd better start getting a baseline.

I daresay my game may have even improved slightly since the last time I played. I had been a bit nervous that the twisting motion of the swing would hurt but it wasn't a problem.

I'm still hitting my shots straight and if anything, this has slowed my swing down just enough to take care of my slice. I just have to work on my aim! My follow-through still feels very natural but after video review I can see that it does look a bit off (but I don't have a video-baseline to compare to from before).

My short game still has a lot to be desired and unfortunately on that one, you can't even point to the leg! Lisa and I are going to need more mini-golf practice.

For my Uncles: no water traps near any of the tee-boxes so I still had my driver when we got off the course.

Nice course!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Aussie Rules

AFL: Australian Football League (Aussie Rules)
Venue: The Gabba Cricket Grounds
When: Saturday night, May 16th

This posed some really interesting challenges for me so I thought I'd blog a little bit about it. Also I haven't blogged in a while and it's good to let the family know I'm alive and ticking!

Aussie Rules football is very different from any other game I've ever seen. For one, it's probably football match played in a giant oval! It's also one of the only games on earth where you can score a point by missing your goal kick. Sort of a nod to "heeeeey... that was... um.. clooose... here's a pity-point!"

It's an extremely athletic game played by no less than 36 players on the field and 8 umpires. The players jump as high as pro-basketball players, run as fast as the fastest soccer players, hit as hard as the toughest rugby players and have the grace of a major league outfielder when catching a ball under pressure.

You don't need to watch the ball for the action as there's at least three other games being played away from the ball at any given time, jostling for position and moving the chess pieces around the field.

The game never stops action. A whistle doesn't mean "stop what you're doing", in fact it means "play on!". This makes the fans some of the craziest viking-like fans on the planet. It's easy to get caught up in such a fast paced game with so much action!

Oh yeah, my personal challenges for the night:
- climbing the steep stairs of the Gabba to my seat
- navigating the steep stairs holding two beers instead of a railing
- shuffling past feet in the aisles to get to my seat, trying not to fall on anyone
- bumping around in the crowds after the game
- standing on the bus ride home for lack of a seat

It was a good test. Often the subtle movements are the hardest to control so squeezing one foot in front of the other with so many feet in my way, without spilling a drop of beer, not so easy!

We had a good night. Brisbane beat Adelaide 119 to 83 and Daniel Bradshaw (#18) beat the all time Lions scoring record with 461 goals.

Quidditch meets reality.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

SCUBA Diving with Shaahhks

Shaahhk: (noun) Australian for Shark.

Monday was a public holiday in Queensland, Labour Day. It wasn't a holiday in New South Wales because they don't work hard enough down there to need one.

Since NSW is just a short 2 hour trip south of us, we left the sunshine and crowds behind us on Monday and went for a SCUBA dive at Julian Rocks, near Byron Bay (NSW).

This was my first dive since the accident and it went great!

We saw a HUGE green turtle. It's difficult to get an idea of the sheer size of this guy from the picture but needless to say, it was the size of a coffee table.

We also swam along side a two-and-a-half meter spotted wobbegong shark. There were loads of other amazing tropical fish, blow-fish and giant angel-fish.

Thinking ahead and recognizing that I'm a twin-engine vehicle with one motor permanently in the shop, Lisa and I devised a way to give me back some of the propulsion I would be lacking.

We bought some webbed gloves for swimming which gave me some extra agility when required. My finger tips still poke up out of the open fingers of the webbed gloves meaning that I could still fiddle with my gages, BCD triggers, etc.

I also strapped a small snorkeling fin to the bottom of my leg inside the wet-suit giving me some extra propulsion.

All in all, the combination of the two worked really well and I didn't feel any different diving now that I would have before.

Lisa swimming like a fish.

Schools of these bright fish were everywhere.

Mike in full gear.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Tennis: Going Balls Out

Just before I received my leg, I made a list of goals:

1) Walk perfectly (no limp) in three weeks (thanks MJ).
2) Back to rock-climbing in one month.
3) Able to jog/run in three months.
4) Playing tennis in six months.

This list has been posted as the wallpaper (background image) on my phone ever since, meaning that I look at it about 30 times a day. Today I achieved item number four a few months early!

Playing tennis requires being able to do number three on the list (jogging/running) as well as a few other skills:
- pivoting
- running backwards
- stopping and starting quickly
- having the ability to lunge
- side to side quick stepping
- looking good in tennis shorts

This made playing tennis one of those "ultimate goals" for me, thinking it would take real practice on my leg to be able to play the game properly.

I wasn't as quick on my feet as I'd hoped from my running practice but all of the other skills came into play. With practice, my speed and agility will improve, but for now, I'm counting on my killer ball placement skills to foil my much quicker opponent.

Getting nice flex out of the ankle there.

Lisa working on her form. I'm glad we only played one set; near the end she'd figured out my weakness and was starting to play it to her advantage!

Returning the shot. Keeping my prosthetic leg behind me allows for maximum agility. This allows me to pivot quickly without twisting my leg in the socket while also putting me up onto the flexible toe for maximum energy return.