It has taken me a bit of time to work out what I would write in this post. By now the majority of people who will read this post know what happened in Sydney just over 24 hours ago. And I would be lying if I did not say that the incident has shook me up.

I was never in any danger, Sydney is a big city after all with over 4.5 million residents. But I think the siege hit home because at one time I was close to the cafe where the tragedy occurred. I worked directly opposite the Lindt cafe for over three years. Out of all the surrounding cafes, this was my favourite. After all, the Lindt cafe does the best hot chocolate in Sydney. That’s my pick me up – not coffee. Of course, it is stocked with all sorts of chocolate goodness as well. I would love meeting up with co-workers for a sneaky chocolate snack in the afternoon, in the guaranteed knowledge that the Lindt cafe would have a dark chocolate goodie. And a workers in the cafe would always hand me the snack with a smile.

On the day when the criminal assailant walked in, we received an email informing us that something was going on with our office across from the cafe, and the physical lock down procedures were put in place. I sensed something was wrong. Then the TV in the kitchen started to show our NSW Police Officers deploying around the cafe. I have worked very closely with the Police in the past, and I knew immediately that I was watching the Tactical Response Group in action – things were serious. I have the utmost respect and admiration for the NSW Police and the job they do. They deal with bad and the ugly on a daily basis, and very seldom the good. What was unfolding before my eyes was bad. I rang my wife to tell her to stay at home and not meet me for lunch. My wife was confused, until she saw the TV coverage. My son was upset that he would not see me for lunch, but my wife lovingly shielded him from the real reason. At the time no one knew whether this was a coordinated and planned attack – or the act of a lone deranged criminal with a completely shattered moral compass.

Most people now know how the events tragically unfolded…

It all came to an end while most of Sydney slept. We woke up to the awful news. As I kitted up to go cycling training, I could not clear my head. To say this totally clouded my thoughts is an understatement. As I pushed the pedals I could not think of anything else, and my session clearly reflected that. I was not the only one, we were all collectively flat. I was sad, angry, empty, all at once. I waited for any news of who the hostages were, and whether any of them were my old work colleagues. As the reports and the names came in, thankfully none of them were.

Putting it in perspective, this is not about me. Two people lost their lives to a criminal who should have been locked up – not out on bail. He likely planned the murder of his ex-wife and was up on 40 counts of sexual and indecent assault. He took the p!ss when he applied for asylum into Australia under false pretenses, and should never have been let into the country. Then when he got here, he actively fought against the fabric and foundations of our society – flaunting our faces incredulously in our own tolerance. Even when he got here he should have been extradited back to Iran because he was a criminal fraud over there. And all the while our NSW Police knew exactly his character and pleaded with our Legal system who failed to lock him away. He even smeared his own religion with his unconscionable actions, trying to tarnish thousands of Australians of the same faith.

It would be too easy to call this terrorism, the fact is that is was an evil crime.

While I read today about over 140 children who were killed by extremists in Pakistan, the tragedy of my own city is what is occupying my thoughts. I know enough about the world to know that this can happen in my home city. I am not that naive. But I can’t help but feel an indescribable loss. My city was attacked by one person who wanted to take down my fellow Sydneysiders, for no reason other than his own evil motives. My city fought back, and did not allow him the vehicle or platform, and people were hurt as a result.

For Sydney and all those who were dragged into this horrible ordeal, I say a quiet prayer. No photos, no hashtags, just a quiet prayer. And maybe one day I will be able to explain to my son and daughter the real reason why they could not meet me for lunch that day.

Nothing to say, just the photo (with a little help from Pixlr on my Android).

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My kids have brought me a lot of joy this year, with the addition of number two and our 4 year old son (AKA “the Pok”) with all his crazy antics. One of the highlights would have to be taking my son to the local bike store and putting him on his first pedal bike. He has already been scooting around on his balance bike since he was about 1 1/2 so I was hoping the graduation to pedals would be smooth. I would be lying if I said it was. I had to shave 20mm off of the seat post so he could put his feet down, and the pedals were just getting in the way, collecting his legs as he comes to a Fred Flintstone stop (you know the one that relies on a solid pair of shoes underfoot to avoid gravel rash in your heel).

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I thought that for the first couple of goes I would leave the training wheels on – MISTAKE! He loved them a bit too much and there was much rancor when I pulled them off. Even flat out refusal to ride. The reality is he was scared of falling. So after following him on a couple of rides (translation: running after him to catch him if he fell), he has found the courage to pedal. This is not the first clip of him riding, that will always just be for us, but now look at him motor!

Yes he has a rubber neck, but I am one very proud Dad! The cyclist in me says look at his cadence. The Dad in me says I hope he learns to stop before I have to buy a new pair of shoes. Now to get him primed to go over jumps!

My wife planned a date night for this last weekend a while ago with tickets to John Legend. A few of life’s dice did not roll our way in the last week, so when we got to Friday I was not in the mood. But my wife did not entertain for one little bit missing out on the concert – and I am glad that she didn’t. After a quiet evening stroll to the Entertainment Centre, we arrived at our seats about a minute before John Legend took to the stage. There were no gaudy stages or extravagant smoke displays, just a well lit stage and a fantastic backing band including a four piece string quartet.

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I love going to see John Legend play. He is a cheeky musician who writes some saucy songs, but all with a veneer of clean music over the top. And I suppose there is no shortage of ego either. But he is one very talented musician! Maybe he was onto something when he moved on from being a management consultant to tour and travel the world…

Nothing to say, just the photo (with a little help from Pixlr on my Android).

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This is a guest post from my young niece JY! She is the eldest among the kids (though she is a young lady now), and finds it hilarious what comes out of my son’s, AKA “The Pok”, mouth.

During one of my many Skype conversations with my little cousin “The Pok”, we engaged in our usual conversation. As usual, we began by asking each other what he had eaten for breakfast. He racked his brain for all he had eaten throughout the day and delighted in the culinary exchange.

Once our “food conversation” was over, The Pok suddenly grew very excited to demonstrate what he had recently learnt – how to count!

First, he started to count my fingers as I held them up in front of the webcam. Each time, he would not get the amount of fingers correct. Curious, I asked him how many fingers he had.

Cousin of the Pok: “[Pok], how many fingers do you have?”

Pok: “I have all of them!”

With that we all laughed hysterically, including “The Pok”, though I knew that he didn’t understand that what he said was funny.

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The weather in Sydney is starting to scorch already. The end of Spring this year is a hot one, and I get the feeling that Summer is going to be very hot. So I decided to take the my trusty little Canon Powershot G15 on a mini-excursion in the yard and garden at my parent’s house. There were little gems of flora and colour everywhere.

This little wasp had no interest in me, he was drunk on nectar.

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Some of the flowers are quite hardy and resilient to the scorching Australian sun.

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Years of pruning this palm tree has left a trunk of incredible texture.

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At the end of Spring, the Summer flowers are getting ready to bloom.

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That didn’t stop others from shining fully in their efforts to attract pollinators.

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The only snake in this garden was coiled up in snooze mode.

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The other palm in the garden had a fully loaded bomb bay. These little seeds are coming down in a couple of weeks before they decide to drop of their own accord.

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This plant’s mottled leaves were strange, and bare of any flowers.

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I did not realise that this plant held it’s pollen under it’s leaf and not at the end of a flower stalk. The leaf is displaying the charred effect of long exposure to the sun.

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And the front garden is covered in hydrangeas. For as long as I can remember they have been at the front of the house.

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Spring in full bloom is coming to an end, hello Summer!

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Our boy, AKA ‘The Pok’, has started to say some really funny things with the reasoning of a 4-year-old behind his musings. Some of it is hilarious, or just bizarre.

I am far from being a saint when I am driving and reacting to the idiotic misaligned actions of my fellow drivers. To be honest, my language when cussing other drivers can be pretty bad. That has all changed significantly (my wife might begs to differ) since becoming a dad. I am always conscious of the fact that I have a little word repeater in the back seat.

But I couldn’t contain myself on the way back from a “boys only” trip, with the Pok, to Ikea. [side note: this would appear to be our second favourite destination for “boys only” trips, the first being Bunnings Warehouse Hardware Store – end side note].

Travelling in the car at 60 kph, I had to slam on the brakes to let in a young driver who was too impatient to wait for the acres of space available behind my car.

I let rip within the noise cocoon of my own vehicle, “You stupid Muppet!” Satisfied with myself at the verbally issued tirade.

Within a second “The Pok” gave his version of cussing to the driver, “You silly Prawn Head!”

I double taked, as this was the first time I had heard him have a crack while driving.

“[Pok], what did you say?”

He responded just as eagerly, “I called her a silly Prawn Head, because they are just silly.”

I burst out laughing at what he thought was a demeaning turn of words, which bemused him as to why I turned from road rage to laughter at his outburst.

Some day, when he is much older, I will teach him insults that are not comedic.

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I have been long overdue for a blood donation at the Australian Red Cross Blood Service. I was booked in for a donation this morning for a blood plasma, when I was asked if I could donate platelets instead. Apparently I have a high platelet count (for no other reason than I have), and some poor soul does not. He or She is in desperate need on a daily basis of platelet transfusions until they can find a suitable bone marrow donor – not an easy job. So my Friday Fone Foto is a simple one, a new blood sucking machine that I have become acquainted with. :-)

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I don’t like pushing my causes on others, but if you can donate then why not? The needle only tickles, the staff are always awesome, and plus they give you a free milkshake after your donation!

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