02 February 2013

Fires

It has been a tough month.

You've probably seen in the news the proliferation of fires around the country at the moment. I work for an Agency that is responsible for fire suppression on public land, so it is probably no surprise that much of my time in the past month has been focused on assisting the fire efforts.

While I won't go into specifics - probably not the place for it - I will try and paint a picture for you.

It started out in early Jan (at this point I can't even remember dates) assisting with some NSW fires - some managed from our side of the border, some managed from theirs. It did involve a NSW deployment for a string of night shifts in one of their Incident Control Centres.

A few more small fires around here and some single day deployments.

The big campaign so far has been the NE Vic fires. I was on the first shift last week when the fire broke containment lines. This happened towards the end of the day, so having already worked a full day, it meant working close to a 24 hour shift. This then continued into a week of night shifts and then a week of day shifts.

And when the fire broke lines again this week, I had worked a day shift, which then continued through the night into a 24 hour shift. Luckily it was toward the end of my tour, so I now have a couple of days off before heading back next week.

I can handle the work. It is tough and stressful, but it is also rewarding in that I get to work as part of a larger team planning and delivering the suppression efforts. But it is tough. Standard 12 hour shifts generally morph into 14 or 15 hours by the time you get to and from home.

The toughest bit is leaving the family. Els basically has to become a single parent while I'm away - I leave at 6am and get home at 9pm. With a (nearly) 6 month old kid in the house, this is hard to do, and Els is doing a fantastic job.

I don't know how long this is going to go on for. This campaign could potentially drag on for weeks - who knows.

Well, I have a couple of days off now, so I need to rest up, relax and get ready for next week.

01 January 2013

Hola 2013

Hello all, long time no speak.

I can't believe 2012 is over. In some respects, it seemed the year went on forever, in others, it seemed to fly. However you look at it though, 2012 was the year that my life changed forever.

So, what happened with my year?

Those in the know will know that in late 2011, E and I found out that we had a little surprise on the way. Very surprising indeed - and very good news. Whilst not being a religious or spiritual person in any way, shape or form, I am prepared to concede that there may have been some sort of higher power looking over us. I was on my way back from Tasmania (after a short break down there last year post a work conference that E went to), and had stopped in Melbourne to see a mate and his wife, who had just given birth to their first child. C and K are two of my best friends, and it was great to see them settling into life with a new bub.

I had never been the paternal or clucky type, and for a very long time maintained that I didn't want any children. But after that visit, as I was driving home up the Hume Fwy, I was thinking that it wasn't such a bad thing, and if C and K could do it, maybe I could as well. The timing couldn't have been better really, as when I got home that afternoon, E told me that she was pregnant.

This then set in a chain of events that has kept us very busy for the bulk of 2012.

First port of call - buy a child-friendly house. Since moving to Albury in 2004, we had been renting a house which was quite small, but suited our needs well. Unfortunately it was deemed to be unsuitable for child-rearing - and besides, if we were going to have a kid drawing all over the walls, they had better be walls we owned! So the hunt was on for a house, which was duly found and purchased, and we moved in late March I think. Luckily the property was in extremely good order, so aside from replacing some flooring (carpet not a great idea with two inside dogs) and a few garden modifications, the transition has been more or less seamless.

One of the garden modifications - raised veggie boxes
Hopefully 'Jack Russell' proof

A visitor to our backyard - juvenile brown goshawk

Another occasional visitor - echidna in our front yard

May presented a most unfortunate injury for me - I managed to snap the top tendon in the middle finger of my right hand. A stupid, stupid injury - incurred while taking my socks off of all things - but extremely inconvenient, as it meant 14 weeks of splinted finger and a fair bit of rehab and recovery. I was lucky that the injury didn't require surgery to repair - it is apparently a common injury amongst those who play ball sports - and if the finger is splinted and immbolised quickly enough after the injury (within 48 hours), the tendon will rejoin of it's own accord.

Originally the immobilisation was only meant to be for 8 weeks, after which point I was referred to an orthopedic surgeon for a review. At this point I received some bad advice (from the surgeon), who told me it was completely healed, and to just go easy on it for a while. This turned out not to be the case, and I ended up splinted for another 6 weeks.

End result is that I spent pretty much all winter unable to do anything particularly physical, and unable to ride.

This then coincided with the arrival of someone very special in my life - Amelie Jaye.

Nervous and about to be a Dad

First look




Amelie (or Boo for short) arrived on August 8, after an attempted induction resulting in an emergency C section. She arrived in good health but with low blood sugar, which necessitated 5 days in the nursery on a combination of a sucrose drip and naso-gastric tube for feeding. This is apparently a relatively common occurrance with bigger babies (9lb 4oz), and can be linked to gestational diabetes in the mother. E wasn't officially diagnosed with GDB, but after 2 glucose tolerance tests, her blood sugar levels were on the threshold, so this may have been a contributing factor.

While it wasn't an ideal start for the little one, I knew she was in the best of hands with the nursery staff, and she certainly had the best of care.

Boo is growing up very, very fast - I can't believe it. It almost seems every day she learns something new. She is certainly an active little bub - we are lucky that she sleeps really well, but when she's on, she is ON. Lots of activity and moving around for this one. Nearly 5 months old now - it seems a lifetime ago that I was looking at her in the nursery, and it also seems incomprehensible that she was never not a part of our lives.

Loves chewing on her feet

Concentrating very hard

Happy little kid

Work-wise, it has been a good year. I think my GIS skills have grown exponentially this year - I've been able to stretch myself and get stuck into some projects that have challenged me. I've also worked very hard to ingratiate GIS into the broader Department, and tried to position us as people that can partner and add value, rather than just being the labrats in the corner that make your map for you.

Big ticket item for the year was that I managed to wangle a 3 day ESRI course - Introduction to Geoprocessing using Python. I've always had an interest in writing scripts and coding, but it is not something that I've been able to exploit or advance. Having the opportunity to complete this course has been brilliant, it was the springboard I needed to starting using code and command line more. It has taught me plenty (not to mention posing plenty of questions) and solved quite a few process issues for me as well.

A couple of disappointments for me this year have been my riding (or lack of), and to a lesser extent my continued involvement with the MTB club.

Firstly, to the riding. This year has been an utter disaster. Since about February, I have done just about zero riding. I was fully expecting to have a couple of lean months with house moving and settling, but the finger injury just completely threw me - with a splinted finger, it was just about impossible to ride - unable to get a decent grip on the bars, and especially when riding the MTB, feeling extremely exposed with my injured finger sticking straight out like a javelin, just waiting to be jammed into something. No thanks.

And once the kid arrived, I found it very difficult to program any riding in - with a young kid, there was no routine at all (still isn't really), and I found myself unwilling and feeling guilty about heading out riding while E was home with the kid.

End result is that I feel guilty about not riding, and I feel guilty about going out to ride. It is really something that I need to resolve this year - I am very unhappy with myself about letting some very hard earned fitness go to waste, and I need to accept that until I get on top of that and back into some sort of routine, I'm not going to be much good as a Dad either.

I have ideas batting around in my head as to how to resolve this, but as to how practical or workable they are - we will see. One thing is certain - the more I think about it, the less I am likely to do, and the less I do, the less likely I am to get results.

As to the MTB club. I am now into my third year as President. I was not keen to renominate this year, and with the arrival of the kid, I made it clear that I needed to step back. Unfortunately, the lack of suitable contenders had me back in the hot seat for another 12 months. I must profess to not enjoying the job as much as I have in the past - it has really become more of a chore than a labour of love. But, there are unfinished projects that I have started that need to be finalised (I am writing the final report for one of these as I write this, actually), and it will be good to have them behind me, and in a position where the club and I can afford to take a deep breath and relax for a little while.

A good thing that has happened has been plenty of new interest and blood coming onto the Committee this year - I see good things for the future, and all being well a succession plan as well for when I do step away.

So - anyway, that was my 2012. A huge year by all measures, and certainly one that has changed my life irrevocably. As to what 2013 brings? Who knows. I am sure excitement, frustration, happiness, amazement and wonder. It will be great watching the kid continue to grow this year - this time next year when I write this post, she won't be a baby anymore, but a little girl. And a cute one at that!

To those left reading this poor excuse for an unmaintained blog - happy 2013. I hope that this year brings you happiness and success.


19 June 2012

Ranty Pants

Warning: "Get Off My Lawn" post ahead.

I really, really wonder sometimes.

I (and a lot of other people) spend a great deal of time volunteering to run events that let people ride and race their bikes. Much work has gone into hosting a round of the Vic Schools Cycling Champs this weekend.

I did my usual runaround of all things social media this morning and plugged the event. Here is two of the sample responses I got.

Exhibit A: Didn't read the information I'd already sent and got uppity when I didn't respond to him in time, even though I had already given him the information he wanted.






















Exhibit B: Gets shitty because the event is exactly what they want.



















Really makes you want to go out of your way to do this stuff, hey?

[/get off my lawn]

28 April 2012

It's Alive!

Something pretty cool happened last night. I got to feel the munchkin kicking for the first time. Els has been feeling it for ages, but try as we could, I was unable to feel anything from the outside. But the little tacker has got a bit stronger, and *much* more insistent, and I finally got to feel a bit of what has been tormenting Els for the last few weeks.

In other news, the most fantastic Autumn weather here at the moment, and I have spent the last three days outside either building MTB trails, or designing MTB trails. And for bonus points, I also got to map some MTB trails (call it product testing for the new Trimble units we have at work). The beautiful weather looks to be continuing over the weekend - should be a great opportunity to get outside, maybe even on a bike.

Housewarming party tonight for the new joint... best get busy and get organising!

14 April 2012

Blurred - continued

Flick (24 hour rider extraordinare) has completed a write up of last weekend's race.

Check it out here: http://flick30.blogspot.com.au/2012/04/2012-national-24-hour-solo-mtb.html

10 April 2012

Blurred

What a blur the last few weeks has been. What with the move, trying to get settled in the new place, getting sent out into the field for work (supporting our planned burn program), and a trip to Canberra over the Easter weekend.

I got home from work tonight, sat down, and tried to work out what to do. It was an odd feeling - I *know* stuff has to be done, but I don't quite know where to start. So I didn't.

Anyway - Canberra on the weekend was a hoot. I travelled up with two good mates, Flick and Dave (I work with both of them). Flick has been training her arse off, and had entered herself in the National 24hr Solo Champs. Dave and I went up as Pit Crew Extraordinare (hereon in known as the Pit Bitches).

Flick was super keen to have a solid crack at an overall win, and had done everything in her power to be physically and mentally ready. So the pressure was on Dave and I to provide an appropriate level of support to achieve that goal.

I won't go into a detailed post just yet - maybe down the track - but in brief, the plan was to ride to heart rate (70%) for the first 12 hours, and then assess position and make a call from there. Food and hydration plan was laid out and we had to stick to the plan.

First 12 hours went really well - Flick deliberately didn't got out hard and chase the lead bunch, more taking the chance that they would blow and drift back to her. Come midnight, we started to give her time splits to the next rider up the road and give her a rabbit to chase. This was all well and good, but at this point the heat got turned up a little at the front, and Flick was actually losing time to them. So rather than demoralise her, we stopped with the time splits and just kept her circulating.

By 6am the damage was out to around 1/2hr, and we pulled Flick in for a change of clothes, good feed, and a bike change. This did her the world of good, as did the double espresso with 3 sugars. We sent her out on her hardtail for a lap to give me a chance to clean and service her dually (#1 race bike).

Once back on the dually, she was flying. After doing 55 ish min laps all night, her first lap back was a 48min - and to top that off, the lead riders were dropping back. Flick was picking up 8 minutes a lap on the lead bunch. After a quick calculation, we worked out that if she could keep that pace, she would run down the lead bunch on the final lap and be in the running for a podium.

And run them down she did, catching third place on the final lap (3rd place had completely blown by this point, Flick put 20 minutes into her in a single lap) and scoring a podium place - an exceptionally hard earned one.

It may have been the lack of sleep, but this was one of the most seriously good bits of cycling I had ever seen - in my mind this was even rivalling watching Cadel up Alpe du Huez last year - Flick just loaded up the diesel engine and let rip.

What a weekend and what a privelige to be part of such a hard fought podium.

26 March 2012

Final Night

Well, this is the last time we will sleep in this house! After almost 8 years (the longest I have been anywhere since I left home), Els and I will finally move into our new property tomorrow.

It's been a long week of moving anything that isn't bolted down, and the removalists will hopefully take care of all of the big items tomorrow.

Experiencing the usual headaches and hassle with transferring and reconnecting services - ADSL may be out for a week or so. I see some quality iPhone time in my future.

Adios, Mulqueeney St. You've been a great house, we've loved living here, and it will be a sad occasion leaving.