The right attire…

I like to wear speedos.

Yes I wear them to swim laps at the pool – that’s pretty much a standard. If you are serious about swimming for fitness you wear the right gear. Some guys go for jammers others the more traditional brief-style “speedos”.

I am one of the later.

I used to wear them all the time, beneath my board short or swim shorts. However, I always had the desire to whip off the baggy shorts and swim in the streamlined close-fitting snug speedos.

That changed when we moved interstate.

New city, new place. No-one knew me at the pool. Plus we moved to a much bigger city – one with a hell of a lot more people at the pools and more diversity. The fact that pools in the city are a mix of cultures many of whom have not had the US driven ‘fear’ of men being exposed in some way meant that the pools here had a higher level of men in speedos. In fact some nights the board-short wearing guy was very much in the minority.

The first time I went in the pool ‘just’ in my speedos caused me to feel a little bit of fear, a little bit of embarrassment and a lot of unanswered questions. All of which vanish when I pushed off the edge that first time, since I was a (very) prepubescent child of maybe 10 or 11, clad in only a small thin piece of material. The water glided off me, my legs kicked free from any encumbrance and I felt good, I mean, I felt great. I swam so much easier, and on top I felt like a swimmer, like I belonged in the swimming lane and not the walk and talk lane.

That good feeling came from both the way I swam (it really was so much easier), and also the sense that I was (outwardly) unashamed and confident in my body. Now I need to say I am no Adonis, I haven’t got the perfect swimming body (not sure I ever will at 40) but I certainly feel like I look better just by the fact that I do wear swimwear design for swimming.

Two-Little-Boys-in-speedos
Yup kinda like these guys… 

To me wearing a form fitting speedo is akin to wearing a well tailored, good fitting suit. You put on that suit, the shirt, the tie and do your hair well – look in the mirror and you look and feel great. That’s the same feeling I get when wearing the right and (in my mind) the proper swimwear. It’s almost a ‘fake it till you make it’ scenario. Dress the part and you are the part, that kind of thing.

I am no longer ashamed (although I have had moments of doubt) and I am beginning to become less worried about what others may think. Sure I have my days when I get to the pool and see a group of mostly younger guys in board-shorts (mostly just playing in the water) and not doing laps, but I build up my wall put on my game face and walk-on down to the pool deck. Wearing my suit with confidence. It’s also true that I haven’t actually seen anyone looking at me, or commenting to me… so that helps!

Besides, I feel good and I swim better.

That’s the whole point I have to writing this. It’s not about how I look, I would be the first to say don’t take my picture in speedos I will NOT look good. As I said I don’t have a swimmer body, there are no visible 6-packs (the making of a keg maybe) on my belly. I am also hairy… I’m not an ape but there is body hair… proud manly body hair! The point is about how I FEEL.

I feel strong, I feel fit and I feel like a stud!

I will say that when I swim with the kids in the kiddy pool I wear board-shorts. The nature of needing to be the lifeguard and helper isn’t the right environment to wear briefs. That may be more a societal thing than anything to do with me, but it just feels more ‘right’ to at least wear more modest swim attire. It probably shouldn’t but there you go! Life ain’t easy.

So I say if you swim, if you are at least semi-serious about swimming for exercise, remove the board-short, get rid of the drag. At least get a pair of jammers or go the whole hog and ‘don the ‘does. Take it from me, you’ll never look back.

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Music from the 1990’s – part 1

So I took on a challenge from a friend on Facebook to list my top 7 songs from the 1990’s. I took that one step further and decided to list my favourite song from each year of that decade. 1990 – 1999.  A task I found hard for more than one year.

I also chose to list the albums that either had an effect on me or was one that stuck with me for more than one reason.

1990

My song for this year was also the big hit from my first ever CD. I also got my first CD player this year. The start of the decade was the start of something bigger. The song might not be the best ever but it meant something at the time.

Albums released:

Greenday released their debut album 30/Smooth
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds released The Good Son which featured The Ship Song 
Blue Sunshine released their only album The Glove – first released in 1986 it was re-released in 1990 with some bonus tracks. Main reason I list this is that the band was a side project by Robert Smith (The Cure) and Steven Severin (Siouxsie and the Banshees)….
Roger Walter performed and released his live version of The Wall from Berlin to celebrate the fall of the wall eight months earlier. I have this on cassette somewhere.
Ride released three EP’s marking their debut – later this was released as a combination album. While never reaching the full height they may have deserved this band certainly hit a lot of marks! EP were Ride, Play and Fall 
The Cure released their re-mix album Mixed Up which featured the single Never Enough 
Lush released their debut album Gala and beginning a great career of harmonious singing and great guitar work. Pure Showgazing music.
Enigma’s first album MCMXC a.D. with the single Principle of Lust and Mea Culpa setting this German project up to be a band that will feature more in the 1990’s.

1991

Was pivotal for the rise of Alternative 90’s music. Nirvana was one of the first to rise from the Seattle scene and it had to feature as my song for the year. So hear is the song that many still say was about them and their struggle – Smells Like Teen Spirit.

Albums released:

The Smashing Pumpkins release their debut album – GISH
Big Audio Dynamite II released their fifth album (second under the BADII name) – The Globe
The Tea Party also released their debut album – The Tea Party
I first heard the Red Hot Chili Peppers with – Blood Sugar Sex Magik
Crowded House released the album with most singles ever – Woodface
Metallica rocked the world with – The Black Album
Perl Jam released a defining album – Ten
Blur continued the theme with debut album – Leisure
U2 released – Achtung Baby

1992

A truly defining year.  The Cure released WISH, and I started on a journey with that band which continues to this day. I also saw them for the first time at the Sydney Entertainment Centre, later this year we see them again at Rod Laver Arena – I am going with my mate Les who’s mum took us all those years ago. So it was no surprise that they featured as my song of the year. For the challenge I did Friday I’m In Love, but it could easily have been High or Letter To Elise.

Albums Released:

Shakespeare’s Sister release their second album – Hormonally Yours – Hello being the big single I remember.
Ride also released their second album with – Going Back Again
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds released – Henry’s Dream
The Lemonheads brought us “It’s a Shame About Ray”
P J Harvey burst on to the scene with – Dry, she was to feature a lot through-out the 90’s for me…
Eric Clapton “Unplugged” – I’m not sure if he was the first to do this but it was certainly the first I remember of this popular kind of live album
Brian May came “Back to the Light” with his first post Queen solo album since the death of Freddy (second he had released) This was full of great songs and features “Too Much Love Will Kill You” which was also released by Queen with Freddy’s vocals in 1995.
Just for fun I had to mention Ween with Pure Guava – I have the single “Push th’ little daisies” – it’s just silly.

1993

Suede, another band I have followed since they started, released their debut album Suede. Interestingly another band Radiohead also released their debut Pablo Honey. I had a hard time choosing which one… But I had to go with Suede – so here is The Drowners.

Albums released:

Belly released their début album “Star” – Feed the Trees was the single of note.
Another début from the Cranberries with “Everybody Else is Doing it, So why can’t we?” – we didn’t mind it Lingered… (bad jokes!)
Lenny Kravitz came to my attention with his third album “Are you going go my way?”
Depeche Mode brought out “Songs of Love and Devotion” this one got a lot of play during my University Years. Dark room, loud music… a few beverages… you know it!
To get some rock into this line up Aerosmith released it’s best selling album “Get a Grip” – a great little album to get your rock on to!
Blur returned with their second album “Modern Life is Rubbish” – said to have come from some graffiti one of the band saw in a toilet. Also a lot of people say this is a defining moment in the Brit Pop scene this set the band up for their follow-up albums.
P J Harvey followed up one year later with her second album “Rid of Me”
Jamiroquai’s debut album “Emergency of Planet Earth” – I enjoy his stuff but never owned any albums…
More from The Smashing Pumpkins with “Siamese Dream” featuring the hits “Today”, “Cherub Rock” and “Disarm” – this certainly set them up to be the well known band they are now.
Mazzy Star the Dream Pop band released their second album “So Tonight That I Might See” featuring “Fade into you”
Billy Joel brought out his twelfth “River of Dreams” – yes I still like to listen to the “Piano Man”…

1994

This was a massive year. Working out which song to feature is even harder for this year. Three albums stand out.
Suede’s second album and still arguably the best they have ever released Dog Man Star. If I didn’t feature them already they would be here!
Blur released Parklife with great hits Girls and Boys and of course Parklife. Again I should probably feature them but…
I will go with Pulp and there third album His ‘n’ Hers and I couldn’t go past the pop alternative sound of Do You Remember the First Time?. Jarvis Cocker has a way with words and how he presents it…

Albums released:

Green Day came out with “Dookie” – featuring the hit “When I come around”. Probably the first time I read heard them.
Cake came on to the scene with “Motorcade of Generosity” while not a stand out it is of note as this was their début.
Hole released their second album “Live Through This” – of note it was released about a week after front woman Courtney Love’s husband Kurt Cobain died…
Nick Cave and the Bad Seed released “Let Love In”, classic hits of “Do You Love Me?” and “Red Right Hand”
Weezer’s début album (sometimes called the Blue Album) brought us “Undone” and “Buddy Holly” – excellent film clip and a good return to simple rock sound.
Beastie Boys brought us “Ill Communication” – with one of my favourite hits “Sabotage” … gotta love 1970’s era cop show film clip!
Powderfinger’s début album “Parables for Wooden Ears” Another one of those not so much because of any hits but the first it started the band on the journey.
Marilyn Manson brought his special kind of music to the world with “Portrait of an American Family”.
Portishead was again a début album to the world. “Dummy” was critically acclaimed but didn’t reach huge sales.
Oasis also released their first album with “Definitely Maybe” – the start of a huge career of ups and downs…
The Cranberries returned with “No Need to Argue” and the classic hit “Zombie” this certainly set the band up as one to watch.
Nirvana released “Unplugged” after the death of Kurt Cobain featuring some awesome covers this album is testament to the loss we had over the death of Kurt.
Pink Floyd – came back with “The Division Bell” first album since the 1987 “Momentary Loss Of Reason” – this was certainly a great return.
Lush came back with “Split”. My favourite track was a b-side on “Hypocrite” – the cover “Love at First Sight”…

This sums up the first 5 years of the decade… I will return with the second half later in the week.

Life, Challenges, and Goals

So we are nearly one month in to 2016, a year on from my cancer treatment, and the third year we are in Melbourne.

I am settling in to life here, we have built up some great networks and friends. Family life is very good, my eldest is starting Grade 1 and the youngest is growing up WAY too fast. We might not get out as much as we would like (as an adult couple) but we have so much opportunity for so many adventures with the girls (even just on the farm we rent) that we sometimes forget to spent time as a couple.

Socially we have really found our place. I have been able to get back into serious tabletop gaming, including a regular Dungeons and Dragons campaign. Anji is riding semi-regularly and her budding business/hobby (hobby/business?) of fiber making (yarn, wool, and end products like knitted goods) is growing steadily.

I have continued swimming (it feels like I am slowly getting there…) Work is going well and we have achieved some great things combining the region into a cohesive focused group.

Yet there is more that I want to achieve.

I have been reading Will Wheaton and his reboot posts (check out January post to see what I mean). He is monitoring seven categories, things that he wants to change and challenge himself with. I have some similar goals that I want to achieve and I would like to explore ways to achieve them or at least give me space and time to give them a go.

  1. Exercise: This is based around my fitness, I want to increase my level of fitness, reduce my weight and generally be healthier. Now I have been swimming fairly regularly, I just need to keep that up! Goal: Swim at least once per week.
  2. Music: Practise my guitar and record some drum tracks… generally I want to be able to create some music with my friends around Australia and the World – we can do that, we just need the drive! Goal: Play guitar more often and record at least once a week.
  3. Read: In the past I did the Good Reads Challenges – which kinda fell apart last year. I would like to make sure that I read more and in more ways. Because I now drive to work I have less time to read, so I have downloaded some audiobooks to listen to on the commute. Goal: Read or listen to 24 books this year.
  4. Write: I want to do regular posts – non-fiction around my interests and work stuff; fiction – write a few short stories or keep planning that novel. Goal: Write more, a weekly post, or a few hundred words a week on fiction.

It’s a few less than Will’s but I really can’t commit to any more than that!

Now to plan it I must work out a weekly planner – fit all the work and life stuff and see where I can fit in these goals… Onwards and upwards.

Hopefully I will be able to report back on the achievements (or not) and keep motivated to achieve these 4 things… it’s only 4 things after all!

Personalised Websites – Creepy, or Useful?

It’s the next phase in evolution for the digital world – websites that show content that YOU want to see or hear about. We see it already in tracked advertising, Google display ads (or similar) that promote items you have search for or looked at on sites. These are the hidden in the cookies and tracking data that follows you around the net.

For instance I was looking up some new computer parts, just wishful dreaming on my part, but low and behold when scanning through my Facebook feed what display ads come up? The very items I was looking at on my preferred computer parts vendor website. It’s a direct call to action – hey you looked at these ram chips, don’t you want to buy them? If I clicked on the link I would go straight the page with the item, a Buy Now (or add to cart) button sitting right there for me to press…

But that’s not personalising the website, that’s just marketing (or more rightly advertising) based on my habits or interests.

Website personalisation is about making the experience of visiting a website for an individual, personal to them. Or at least to their assigned persona. Examples are easy to find in the e-retail industry. We have all experienced Amazon’s amazing ability to use our past purchases, wishlist or views to predict other items we might want to buy. This goes beyond the hint of, “other people who have bought X also buy Y, W and Z”.

Amazon Image Personalisation

It’s about pushing items to the users homepage that the algorithms suggest they would like to purchase. These items vary by user based on their history and data gathered about each individual users. The way Amazon can do this is through the user login in and thus identifying themselves to Amazon. It all comes down to analysing the huge amount of data a company like Amazon can collect on it’s customers. Not only limited to purchase and search history, or what pages or items you have viewed. It can also use demographics such as age, sex, location to start to make connections, creating a persona and comparing that with other users within that cohort and analysing their spending habits and what might be similar.

I have a Kindle 2, I have explored the new range of Fire products, what’s on my homepage? See the image above!

This is much like the above computer part example – however it’s all contained with the one site, Amazon.com, and not using advertising to bring the user back to the site, its about supplying content that meets my needs based on my past purchases and searches. It is also delivered in a way that is unlike traditional advertising. The best way for a e-retail site to sell to a user is by subtle and almost accidental provision of the information.

personalized-nytimes

Media or News sites also do this, by personalising a users home page based on their past interests or pages they have viewed before. Some sites even allow users to select what topics interest them. This provides the most dynamic and ‘of interest’ items to the user. It’s about giving users what they want to see and making the use of the site easy and relevant.

The above example of the New York Times shows a different homepage based on the user preferences, or past interests. Delivering content that the user wants to consume and therefore will want to return to the site and consume more. This isn’t about selling something specific like the e-retail sites.

So can you, or should you, personalise your website?

There are three ways that websites can personalise;

  1. Implicit – based on a users past history, purchase history or search terms, could also be the IP address of the user
  2. Explicit –  chosen by the users, could be defined via a login process or membership “I’m interested in…”
  3. Hybrid – combination of the two

A national based company could easily identify the location of users by the IP address information. We see this in global e-retail sites that convert prices to nation of user, or an electricity retailer who provide packages based on your State of origin. These could be further enhanced by a question like, “prices are in AUD is this correct?” or “packages are applicable for Victoria, change state here”. These are implicit and do no require the user to enter anything (unless they want to change the settings).

Once a user logs in or creates an account the wealth of information that can be gathered gets bigger and more specific. It then becomes a matter of analysing the data and creating systems and rules to deliver the right content to the right person.

Obviously you can combine these two systems to serve your customers and users better.

All in all the reason to personalise a website is about answering a users need, whether that providing products or services that compliment and enhance their experience. In essence making the website relevant to the user.

There are risks to use of personalised websites. Many customers might feel like their privacy has been invaded, or might wonder if big brother is watching them. It can seem creepy when a site keeps delivering items or content that feels like it’s reading your mind.

Would you personalise your website for your users? Do you dislike or find problems with personalised websites? Let me know in the comments.

Life in the Cloud

A little over a year ago I was fortunate to win a Dell Chromebook (this one in fact) with it came 100 GB storage on Google’s cloud service – Drive. I already had the ‘free’ 15 GB which gave me a total of 115 GB of cloud storage.

I have used various cloud storage systems both personally and professionally and while I find Dropbox useful in my work environment (many clients and project partners use it to share large files across multiple individuals). What I like for my personal files is the ease in which I can share, access and use them via Google Drive.

The integration with the Chromebook is, obviously, a big part of that. The limited on board space of the machine (16 GB plus any SD card I might add) certainly means I am more inclined to use the cloud system. The only down side to the Dell Chromebook is the need to be on a WiFi or Wired connection – no ability to add a SIM card. However, with a mobile phone I can easily tether the laptop and download what I need on the fly, then work on that document offline. The ease in which is updates once I am back connected to the internet is superb.

So when I am off playing our monthly D&D session I can make notes on a Google Doc, which will update when I return home. The only downside so far is that I can not edit a PDF in offline, they really need to fix that! A use the official D&D PDF character sheet which is great, the fill-able fields auto re-size the text to fit and I could upload an image of my character. The downside is I have to print off a hard copy to make notes on, which I then correct when back online.

With the size of the storage on Drive I have been able to back-up all our digital images, having them in one safe space means I can rest a little easier knowing that if a fatal error occurs on one of our drives (yes I have them on the PC storage drive and a back up external) they are still sitting safe in the cloud. This also means they are accessible anywhere, at least anywhere I can get an internet connection.

It goes without saying that I also have Gmail, which I now only view via Chrome browser, I no longer have the need to down load my emails or store them separately. Folders and rules within Gmail help me to manage my personal account and the ability to access them all from anywhere is so useful.

On work front I have been able to add the VMWare app which means I can log on to my work virtual machine and be able to take the lighter, longer lasting Chromebook to work events (as long as I have access to WiFi) – this has been very beneficial for many meetings and off site events. It means I am connected and virtually in the office. I have full access to my share drives, all the applications and email! Basically I am in the cloud for work as well – all with a very inexpensive, light weight yet powerful enough machine.

Google Drive is a super useful cloud storage option, coupled with the suite of programs Google offers for free (Docs, Slides, Sheets etc) provides a great integrated platform for most people’s home and indeed work needs. The additional 100 GB costs $1.99/month (full rates) and in my opinion is well worth the costs. Even the free 15 GB is able to hold a large amount of docs and emails.

I know that I was ‘lucky’ to get the Chromebook as a prize, but I believe it was only a matter of time for me to step into the world of Cloud, this was just the push (and tool) to allow it to be done almost seamlessly.

Disruption, A Catch Phrase or Future For Business?

We have been hearing a lot about disruption lately, Business Insider recently wrote about the affect of AirBnB on a major hotel chain in United States of America. Deloitte wrote a paper as part of it’s Building the Lucky Country series on digital disruption and identified 13 industries facing disruption in Australia. Uber are the poster boys for changing the way the taxi industry operates and it’s not all about the technical breakthrough but more about answering the needs of the consumer as outlined in this article from the Sydney Morning Herald.

What does it really mean? Should businesses be lobbying for new laws to protect them? Taxi companies and unions are calling for changes here in Australia. The NSW Government has made it illegal for the public to provide the Uber service. Hotel industry is calling for AirBnB users to pay more taxes and declare earnings from their guests (many do and manage their property as well or better than hotel equivalents.)

The main benefit Uber has is that users know where their driver is and how long they will be, the user gets a picture of them and knows the make, model and colour of the car. The car is clean and users can rate the drive and driver for other users. It’s not the service of a driver taking you from A to B – it the way the service is delivered, it’s reliability and how the user interacts with the service. It’s only here at the pointy end that the App becomes a facilitator and not the driver of the disruption.

Uber - Taxi

The same is true of AirBnB, it created a way for anyone with a spare mattress or room to answer a need for accommodation. Users can chat with the owner (host) and they with them. Users stay in a house, home, apartment, spare room or flat out the back, not a tiny four walled airless room with hard pillows and nowhere to sit and relax. User curation within the networked community means that the AirBnB offer is improved over the hotel experience. The inventory that, while not owned by AirBnB, is larger than any hotel chain, it’s diverse and caters to multiple consumer needs and budgets, the community provides assurance on quality and expectations while the brand of AirBnB provides the solid, safe back bone to the experience. The image above clearly show that AirBnB value the accommodation providers and the variation they offer.

Disruption is not about designing a new App or digital tool, instead it is about changing the focus of goods or services to meet the needs of the consumer. It’s about looking at current delivery or services, identifying the faults and re-thinking the whole shebang. Digital tools are simply the solution that seems to work the fastest, easiest and they certainly are the most responsive to change.

Electric cars like Tesla wouldn’t be around if it wasn’t for a demand from consumers. On demand or streaming services for television won’t be so popular if it wasn’t for the demand from consumers. Old models need to adapt or die, and why they adapt they need to answer the needs of the consumer – both the current one and the new ones they want to attract.

Tesla

Should your business try to disrupt? I would suggest that business, and in particular small business, take a look at what you are currently doing and ask yourself “is this really the best way to serve the needs of my consumer?” Ask your customers what they wish could be done better. Then look to the best solution to deliver that change.

Example: A computer repair company that changes it’s offering to include cloud solutions, helping customers move away from desktop based software to cloud alternatives opens new opportunities and creates locked-in contracts to manage software packages.

Example: A coffee shop that attaches iPad to tables for customers to order from the table, reducing stress in busy times and allowing diners to customise orders and reduce wait times or get mixed up in the takeaway customer line.

What examples do you have? What disruption have you seen in your business and what did you or are you doing about it?

 

Further reading

Platform Thinking has a great article on AirBnB
The Guardian‘s Tom Hogkinson thinks we should be more creative, less disruptive
Deloitte’s Building the Lucky Country series is well worth a read – Part 5 has just been released.

Feature image from the home page of AirBnB 

Reducing waste and saving money

My wife and I undertook 10 in 100 challenge earlier this year. Basically this is about reducing the clutter in your life by removing 10 things each day for 100 days.

We did pretty well, reduced a hell of a lot of clutter and junk, some things went in the bin (or recycling), some we sold on Ebay and some we donated to charity. We actually didn’t get to the 100th day, after our move to Melbourne only a year before we had already reduced a lot of stuff, still amazed at how much we had that was extra!

I think thought that we might need to do this again on a smaller scale, after all we should only have the last 12 months or so to build up clutter.

I think I might make this the 10 in 30 challenge and once again find 10 things a day to remove from our life for 30 days. I think 300 things would be a great investment and certainly reduce once again the clutter and streamline our lives even more.

Like last time I will post this via Instragram to show you all what I have reduced (maybe even let you know where it will be going). So keep an eye out for the #10×30 you are most welcome to do your own #10×100 or #10×30 I highly recommend it.

A recent post from the MillennialMoneyHack is on a similar line but for wastage in expenses, the model there is cut 3 for 3. It’s simple, cut three expenses each month for 3 months. Key here is to start small, cut the easy stuff, the things you really won’t miss or those expenses that you had been meaning to cancel or change.

We recently re-newed our phone contacts (mobiles) and saved ourselves over $30 a month, most of the rest of our expenses are pretty close to the bone or are our one vice (like coffee out etc) so while I applaud and support this challenge and can see a benefit, for a family like mine on 1 and a bit income I just don’t see the extra expenses we can live without.

Our focus is removing the debit of personal loan and credit card, while continuing to reduce the mortgage and keeping on top of bills, for us that is a win. Long term we want to start to save for an overseas family holiday – but that is a few years off but that vision is there and in the mean time if we can see waste we need to remove it.

Let me know your ideas or similar challenges and check back to see how I go with the #10×30 challenge this year.

Image from Andrea Decker

Organising the inside – while it’s getting colder outside

So we have been in Melbourne for nearly two years and in that time we really hadn’t unpacked our book collection and sorted it out. Recently we changed that situation.

A little win-fall meant we could finally afford to go to Ikea and get our wall units to complete the blank wall at Hill Shadow House. 4 Standard size Billy’s and a small one with doors meant we could cover the whole wall.

A couple of wall fixers were added to make it safe and extra stable (kids you know), and here is what we ended up with.

They filled the gap perfectly!

With the books added they are starting to look like home!Yes they are alphabetical by author or series (i.e. Star Trek is under “S”)

Notice the way we featured the wall light and created a cupboard for the girls art suppliers – or what I like to call the crap and messy cupboard. But the girls do like to draw, paint, cut, stick and general get their art on!

The wet cold days certainly allow us to explore other parts of Hill Shadow House – and it’s a nice change to build something and get our books out of the boxes and temporary locations.

2 down and into the third and final stretch

Sunday night was dread night for me.
I had run out of my anti nausea medication and was dreading going in for my last week of full on Chemo. 5 more days of injections and drugs and feeling unwell, followed by the last 2 weeks on 1 day a piece.
I had seen my oncologist on Thursday who was impressed with my general health and gave me some stirring words to last out the next 3 weeks. He booked me in for follow up CT and Blood and reminded me that only 20% of people in my position need to have a follow up operation (to remove the two locations of spread). So it is looking good for monitoring instead of surgery and therefore being closer to the whole things being over.
Mentally however I was still dreading the last leg. I was very ill during the 2nd cycle – I actually threw up more than once and while I worked and got around I felt ill a lot of the time and it is taxing to be strong for family, work, kids, life etc. Hell even just speaking to people at the shop is struggle when you think you might throw up at any moment.
I went and checked out the local music store, to source that last part for the guitar build that has taken forever!!! I found them but need to order and find the $70. It was hard just speaking to them and being civil. I don’t want to explain why I look like I’m about to throw up to a sales assistant…
Also the work gossip mill is not working… or at least it didn’t for one person. He joked about my new hair style, to which I said “it will it will grow back!” His reply “I hope it’s not because of chemo…”. “Well actually it is…” I felt bad as I could see he was shocked and he apologized straight away. I wasn’t offended he truly did not know, I felt sorry because I thought I had got the word out there so that people wouldn’t feel bad and could talk to me honestly or ignore it if they couldn’t.
I realise that even making it public has some issues, but I still stand by being out there and open about it. It’s not something to be ashamed of or even touchy about. There are plenty of people who are touched by Cancer… and like mental illness it should be talked about more and understood more to people can survive this horrid disease.
So back to the start of this final leg.
I posted something about struggling to go back, about the mental strength it takes to go the clinic and take the drugs and my friend Darren called me the strongest person he knows. I don’t see myself that way, I just see that I do what has to be done – no matter the pain no matter the costs. I WILL DO IT. It was thinking this and trying to pull a witty reply that I understand that my doing, and keeping on doing is showing strength. So Darren – I turned up on Monday, I took a deep breath and went in head held high, stomach in, shoulders back ready to rock!
Monday wasn’t too bad, it was a late slow start but Anji stayed with me and Mumpa took on the kid wrangling for us… which I am sure she enjoyed! I know Kate and Tara love having her here helping us!
But I felt good… I was ill and had my script filled so I could take my pills and sleep…
Today was similar – even quicker than Monday which was good… I went for a walk after my session and felt mostly OK. we have Pizza for dinner tonight and I have managed to write this blog… so while there are still 3 days to this week (and more to come) I am feeling strong once again and happy that I am able to handle this.
What makes it a little tainted is that our friend Graham Swam lost his fight to Leukemia yesterday. I will still be fighting on in your name Graham – you had a bad hand dealt and fought all you could, I am one of the luckier ones. Good night Graham.

Cycle one down and hair loss

So that’s it. The first cycle of three weeks is over, and only another two to go!

I have mixed feelings about the end of the first third. On hand I am down three weeks and heading toward the finish line, next week is a full week (due to public holiday on Monday I only have four days with a slight increase in dose…) and after that I only will have one more full week to go. On the other hand I know it will start to get worse and my bounce back will take longer if at all between the sessions.

After Thursday I was quiet ill, I went to bed with a bucket as I wasn’t sure I would not be sick. That was the worst I have felt the whole time. I don’t want to feel that way again but I know I will. Knowing you are going to be sick and still going in for treatment is hard thing. You have to be mentally prepared for the situation and the aftermath. Next week will be hard, but I will get through it and I will do it. I just have to summon up the will and energy.

My parents are coming down this weekend to help out at home and for that I am very thankful. With them here I won’t have to think about Anji and all the work she shoulders while I am otherwise engaged (i.e. asleep or at least lying down so I am not sick). They will help out with the girls and also some of the normal household stuff like washing up and cooking etc.

All in all it is like a band aid – rip that sucker off and the pain is only fleeting. Have the treatment feel ill for a few weeks and then it is all over. At least that is the plan!

As for the treatment – well if hair loss means that it is working, then it is working well.

This week saw drifts of hair start to fall out and this morning it reached a point where I looked like a mangy dog.

So off it had to go. It was a bit of an endeavour to get it all off. At first I tried the razor and in the ended up with the electric clippers. Anji had to come in and fix me up… 
The new streamlined me…

Good news in Anji likes the new look and to be honest it isn’t that bad! Maybe a new style for me? 2015 the year I went bald!
This weekend will see our six year Anniversary and shortly we will mark 18 months in Melbourne. A lot to look back on and a lot to look forward to.